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Ó Snodaigh ridicules Minister McDowell's 'dodgy dossier' on Thornton Hall

17 August, 2006


Responding to the circulation by Minister McDowell of a glossy booklet New Dublin Prison Complex: The right decision? Your questions answered Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh described it as a 'dodgy dossier' that he ridiculed it as 'nothing more than a catalogue of half-truths and blatant propaganda'. He went on to point out numerous deficiencies and omissions in the document's version of events around the proposed super-prison at Thornton Hall.

The Dublin South Central TD: "This dodgy dossier is nothing more than a catalogue of half-truths and blatant propaganda. The Minister is claiming that his booklet answers questions with regard to the selection of Thornton Hall as the site for his new super-prison. The public certainly deserve answers but this booklet does not provide them.

"The booklet seeks to give the false impression that the site at Thornton Hall was part of an open and transparent procurement process. Advertisements were placed in the national media requesting persons to come forward with proposals for potentially suitable sites and a Committee considered the offers that came forward.

"However, the Minister's booklet fails to mention that, according to a letter from the landowner to local residents, it was representatives of the Government that approached him wishing to make an offer on his farm. He went on to state that he had never at any time considered putting the property on the market. He had not actually engaged in the tendering process outlined by the booklet at all.

"Glaringly absent from the booklet also are a number of items of concerns that have been raised with the Minister by the local community and by myself over the last year. These include the fact that the site was introduced into the Committee's discussions after the published closing date; it was evaluated in isolation and processed with extreme haste; the decision to purchase was based on incomplete, inaccurate and misleading information; no environmental impact study was undertaken; the selection criteria used were not 'clear and objective' and; the Committee's advisor, a guest at the Fianna Fáil fundraising tent at the Galway races, overstepped his remit.

"The booklet goes to great lengths to peddle a monumental falsehood, that this decision is good value for the tax payer. However, it neglects to mention that the site was purchased for six times its market value and that the proposal will bind the state to a financially wasteful Public Private Partnership for 35 years. And this ignores the fact that due to the exceptionally high cost of incarceration the government should be exploring the possibilities for alternatives to custody and resourcing the Probation and Welfare Service instead of building super-prisons and compiling dodgy dossiers to sell the idea."

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