Saturday 22 October 2016

Oberstown in flames as inmates riot following staff work stoppage

Oberstown in flames. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Oberstown in flames. Photo: Caroline Quinn

A major fire broke out last night after hours of rioting at the National Youth Detention Centre in Oberstown, north County Dublin.

Flames were seen 'billowing' from the troubled centre which houses up to 40 of the State's most dangerous young criminals.

The fire broke out as news emerged a staff member was rushed to hospital after he was reportedly attacked by an inmate.

Six units of Dublin Fire Brigade rushed to the scene to tackle the blaze which broke out around 9pm last night. A garda helicopter was overhead 15 minutes later.

The environmental unit, which contains heavy duty water cannons, was also at the scene.

The fire occurred after an incident, which staff sources described as a 'riot', broke out in the centre late yesterday afternoon.

Eight inmates protested on the roof on one wing of the complex, following an eight-hour work stoppage by staff.

This followed trouble over the weekend in which substantial damage was done to a wing of the centre. The same unit was put on display last week after it had been totally refurbished after previously being damaged.

The weekend violence followed by trouble yesterday morning prompted staff - who complained of attacks, injuries and fearing for their lives - to walk out in protest.


By late afternoon the situation in the centre was said to be getting out of control.

One local who could see the fire from his back garden said: "We heard sirens and more sirens and thought it might have been a crash on the (M1) motorway. Then we saw smoke billowing out of the place. Then you could see flames."

The witness added there had been consternation in the area after a previous break-out attempt earlier this month, in which five teenage inmates armed with golf clubs and a ladder they stole from a storeroom attacked staff and then scaled the 30ft perimeter wall.

They were soon arrested but local people said it was lucky they were caught so quickly.

The resident who spoke last night said: "There was a big party on in the (Man O' War) GAA club right across from the place and it was packed.

"There were loads of cars there. It was lucky there were no hijackings."

Oberstown was opened at the start of last year as the sole 'Youth Detention' centre in the country. It can handle up to 90 inmates, but the usual capacity is around half that.

A spokesperson for Children's Minister Katherine Zappone said they were unable to comment last night as the "situation is still ongoing".

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