herald

Monday 25 September 2017

€42m and counting, yet still not a sign of new Thornton Hall jail

More than €500,000 has been forked out for security at Thornton Hall, even though not a single brick has been laid for the new prison.

Thousands of taxpayers' euro are being splashed out every month to ensure the north Co Dublin jail is kept closely monitored.

So far €42.24m has been spent on the project, including nearly €30m that was controversially paid for the 150 acres of land near Swords.

The price per acre was substantially higher than that paid for other sites in the area in 2005 and led to considerable criticism of former Justice Minister Michael McDowell. Now the costs are continuing to spiral, even though building has not even begun.

It is hoped builders will begin preliminary work, including the construction of an access road and wall, in July.

Work on the prison building is not expected to begin until next year and the target finish date is now 2015.

Conditions

In the meantime, concern continues to grow about conditions and overcrowding in Mountjoy prison and the costs associated with Thornton Hall.

According to latest figures the bill for security alone currently stands at €553,000.

This is on top of another €7m that has been spent on profession fees, €2.9m on site preparation and surveys and almost €500,000 on landscaping.

An additional 8.7 acres has also been acquired at a cost of €1.3m to provide a dedicated access route to the main prison site, following complaints from residents about the increased traffic.

As is the case with all major infrastructure projects, a comprehensive set of geological, engineering and archaeological surveys has been undertaken at the site.

Justice Minster Dermot Ahern has insisted that the project is progressing on a phased basis as speedily as possible.

kdoyle@herald.ie

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