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Ó Snodaigh ridicules planning procedure for Thornton Hall Super Prison

17 June, 2008

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has described the process by which the Super-Prison at Thornton Hall is to receive its planning permission as farcical.

Under new measures introduced by the Dáil local authorities and An Bord Pleánala are being by-passed and the Oireachtas is acting as the planning authority in its place.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "Section 26 of the Prisons Act 2007 allows for the normal procedures in relation to planning permission to be circumvented by a Dáil resolution. The Department of Justice has used this provision, for the first time ever, to bring forward a resolution to give the final go ahead for the construction of a prison for 2,200 prisoners at the Thornton Hall site in North County Dublin.

"This means that the Oireachtas is now acting as the planning authority for this prison. TDs and Senators at the Justice Committee today were provided with no additional expertise to assist them with their brand new role as a planning authority and they are in the farcical situation where they have been given just one two-hour sitting to consider the issue. An Bórd Pleánala would consider planning decisions of this magnitude over a much more extended period. The relevant detailed documentation was not even made available to Deputies at today's Committee meeting.

"All this is being done to facilitate the preferred private developer headed up by a former Fianna Fáil councillor - McNamara - the same developer who recently collapsed five long-awaited and much needed regeneration projects.

"Sinn Féin is completely opposed to this farcical process. Proper planning regulations with proper consultation with the public are an integral part of the democratic process and should not be sidelined or by-passed in this manner." ENDS

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