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Comptroller & Auditor General report exposes Thornton Hall debacle

27 September, 2006


Responding to the Comptroller & Auditor General's report for 2005 Sinn Féin's Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said that the section on the purchase of the site for the proposed super-prison at Thornton Hall is a vindication of Sinn Féin's position. Pointing out that the report estimates the price for the site was 'at least twice the market price' he said that if the special inquiry he had called for before the purchase was complete, had been carried out perhaps 'Minister McDowell would not have wasted so much of the people's money'.

The Dublin South-Central TD said: "Sinn Féin has repeatedly stated that the site for the proposed super-prison at Thornton Hall was purchased at a multiple of its market value and will tie the state into a wasteful Public Private Partnership for the next 35 years.

"The report for 2005 from the Comptroller & Auditor General published today states:

'The price paid for the site at Thornton is likely to have been at least twice the market price at the time for well-positioned agricultural land with development potential in the target area.'

"It describes the state's negotiating position as 'weak', that there was no real competition to obtain the lowest possible price and that the procurement process 'did not position the State to acquire the land at the lowest cost economically achievable'.

"This follows revelations in Village magazine this month that a number of sites in the same area as the Thornton site were purchased recently for a fraction of the cost.

"The debacle at Thornton Hall is something I have raised a number of times in Leinster House. I called for the Comptroller & Auditor General to carry out a special inquiry into the proposed purchase before it was finalised and perhaps had this been Minister McDowell would not have wasted so much of the people's money.

"But as well as the issue of the Government wasting taxpayers money in this regard a number of other questions remain about the Site Selection Committee's evaluations of various sites and that neither comprehensive site surveys nor comprehensive costings on the work that would be necessary to make the site suitable for a prison were conducted."

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