The Labour Leader has called for action in what he describes as a national mental health crisis.
Tipperary TD Alan Kelly told the Dáil that we need more investment for beds for people with mental health difficulties.
He said that there are typically up to 30 prisoners waiting on a mental health bed at any one time and this is pushing people who should be in psychiatric care into the criminal system.
Speaking in the Dáil about the need for more secure beds, Deputy Kelly cited an example of a North Tipp woman and her son.
“And the issue relates to a young man, whose mother I spoke to, whose living in fear, that her son, who spent four and a half months in jail, because, we could not find, as a State, a place for him, in a secure mental health unit.
“They wouldn’t take him in Dundrum, wouldn’t take him in Cork.
“In the last 24 hours, he’s been sent to Ennis, where he’s absconded from before.
“Now, I’m saying this quite real, people are worried about this young man, because of his situation, what he’ll do to himself or potentially other people.
“This is a real serious issue – we haven’t enough places.”
In 2006, an expert report recommended the establishment of 350 secure forensic beds. Instead only 170 beds are being commissioned.
“There’s previously been issues identified in this space. Last week, experts from the National Forensic Mental Health Service in the Central Mental Hospital outlined the significant challenged posed by the limited number of beds in the new national forensic psychiatric hospital given the level of need.
“Indeed, in March of this year there was a three hour standoff outside the Central Mental Hospital with gardai over a severely mentally ill man sent there by a court order for treatment. It is not acceptable that this is happening.
“As well as denying justice to victims, the lack of investment is denying justice to those suffering with serious mental health issues.
“Access to these services is a human rights issue.
“These people are falling through the cracks and are being failed by the State.
“The Government needs to provide more secure spaces for vulnerable people in our mental health system and stop them falling into the criminal system,” Deputy Kelly said.