Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan has welcomed the Government's decision to stop sending children to be imprisoned at St Patrick's Institution in Dublin.

It follows yesterday's announcement by Minister for Children & Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald that no 16- or 17-year-olds will be held there within three years.

Ms Logan told RTÉ News that the €50m to be spent on developing the National Children Detention Facility at Oberstown would help in preventing teenagers from turning to criminality as adults.

Yesterday, Ms Fitzgerald said the detention of children in St Patrick's Institution has been criticised for over 25 years by domestic and international observers, as being inappropriate for the rehabilitation of children and addressing their needs.

She said the development will allow the young people involved to be given a secure environment that will offer them a second chance to be productive people who contribute to society.

In a statement, the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) said the move was “historic”.

It said: “Over the past 25 years, successive governments have made commitments to ending the imprisonment of children in Ireland, but this is the first time we have seen a concrete plan and a concrete timeline."