Staff at Rath na nOg high-support unit in Castleblaney Co Monaghan repeatedly raised concerns over the legal, health & safety and children’s rights aspects of a management instruction to lock external doors overnight, according to IMPACT trade union. The facility, which has been criticised in a HIQA report, was earlier earmarked for closure as part of a national policy decision to decommission high-support units.
IMPACT says staff in the unit raised their concerns with local management, and expressed their opposition to the move, when the instruction to lock the facility was given. Having received no satisfactory response, they went to their union IMPACT, which raised the issue with senior national managers. In December 2012, staff also made their concerns known to a HIQA inspector who referred them back to local management.
The union said some of yesterday’s [Tuesday] media reporting of the HIQA report mistakenly gave the impression that staff were involved in bullying and assaults at the unit. In fact the HIQA report referred to assaults and bullying by young people on each other.
IMPACT official Ray Ryan welcomed the publication of the HIQA report and said Rath na nOg staff agreed with the criticisms outlined in it. “Rath na nOg staff are dedicated to the care of young people. As caring professionals they repeatedly raised concerns, at national and local level, regarding safety, bullying, fire safety and assaultive behaviour of some of the young people in the unit. Any assaults and bullying are unacceptable in this or any setting and staff were constantly engaged in the difficult task of trying to control such behaviour in the interest of the young people in their care. It is important to stress categorically that no staff were perpetrators of assaults or bullying,” he said.