Wednesday, 13 November 2019
Department of Justice and Equality
137. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the Thornton Hall lands in County Dublin earmarked previously for a prison; if the lands are still in public ownership; if so, if offers from community groups for temporary use of the land will be considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46731/19]
As the Deputy will appreciate, the Thornton Hall site was purchased in 2005 with the intention of constructing a large scale prison campus to replace the 19th century complex at Mountjoy Prison. Due to the downturn in the economy, the scale of the project could not be accommodated within the capital allocation available and the project did not proceed. In the decade since the original plan, international research has tended to favour smaller prisons within reach of support communities as the best option for rehabilitation. In addition, in light of the decision not to proceed with Thornton Hall, significant capital investment was made at the Mountjoy campus over recent years to upgrade accommodation.
Thornton Hall site remains in State ownership.
I understand from the Irish Prison Service that no requests for the temporary use of the site by community groups have been received by the IPS to date.
In recent years a working group, which included representatives from the OPW, considered future use options for the site. This included discussions with Fingal County Council. The site has also been flagged to the Department of Housing and Local Government, and to the Land Development Agency. As such, proposals for the site will be considered both in the context of broader State requirements for land assets as well as any future requirements in relation to detention of prisoners.