There have been an increasing number of reports in the media about teenagers living on the streets with allegations about a lack of appropriate places for them to stay or get help.

It started with a case before the Dun Laoghaire District Court involving a 15 year old homeless girl in which there was not a detention centre in the country to cater for her needs.

Father Peter McVerry of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice runs a hostel for homeless boys in Ballymun. He is vociferously challenging the Eastern Health Board over a case involving a 15 year boy.

Frances Fitzgerald is a social worker in Ballymun and the Chairwoman of the Council for the Status of Women. The Council has taken a strong stance on teenage girls being remanded to Garda stations and adult prisons.

It’s one thing for Mr Haughey to go to New York to sign the United Nations convention on the rights of the child but if the best we can do in Dublin is provide a bed in the Bridewell for what are after all 15 year old girls it is not good enough.

Teenage girls coming before the courts are often sent to Oberstown Remand and Assessment Centre near Lusk in County Dublin. However Unit Head Patricia Flynn says Oberston is for assessment and not long term stay.

Pat Dolan of the Irish Association of Care Workers thinks the problem is all down to lack of facilities. Teenagers are being placed in bed and breakfasts because there are no residential places equipped to take them. 

There is one place however that has the approval of care workers and social workers alike. The Ballymum Residential Project ensures disruptive teens have two staff at any one time and the emphasis is on the importance of a warm family atmosphere.

The responsibility for children in care is spread across the government departments of Education, Health and Justice. Care workers, social workers and the Council for the Status of Women agree that for better efficiency they should be grouped under one department. This however, is a matter for the Government.

An RTÉ News report by Alasdair Jackson broadcast on 30 October 1990.