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People of Dun Laoghaire pay the price for McDowell's overspending

18 October, 2006

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has accused Justice Minister Michael McDowell of making the people of Shankill pay for his easily avoidable overspend on the purchase of Thornton Hall. This follows the Government's refusal of a request from Dun Laoghaire -- Rathdown Council not to sell a site at Shanganagh Castle

Deputy Ó Snodaigh raised the matter at order of business this morning, he said: "Not only did the purchase of Thornton Hall by Justice Minister Michael McDowell amount to a wasteful and dodgy deal but now it appears that the people of Shankill are to suffer the consequences. Just as the tendering process for the purchase of the site at Thornton Hall was mired in controversy, so it now appears that the current process for the sale of the site at Shanganagh Castle by the Minister is neither democratic nor transparent.

"Minister McDowell claimed yesterday that there are two tenders currently bidding for Shanganagh castle. But once again the appropriate notification procedures do not appear to have been followed. The Irish Prison Service refused to provide my office with a copy of the tender notice and their website currently states that 'there are no active tenders at the moment'. I submitted written parliamentary questions to the Minister yesterday morning asking whether he was aware that Dún Laoghaire -- Rathdown County Council have called on him not to sell the land. Rather than address my questions in the normal parliamentary way he has abused Dáil procedures by sending out a press statement on the subject raised by me. Thereby answering through the media before issuing me with a response and displaying yet again an absolute disregard for Dáil procedure.

"Not only this, but he has failed to address the pertinent issue. Dún Laoghaire - Rathdown County Council purchased 21 acres of the land in 2003 and this is to be used for a mixed housing development. The rest of the site, including the castle, should be made available to the county so that it can be used to reduce the disgracefully long waiting list for social housing which currently stands at 3,519 families, and to provide much needed public amenities. Minister McDowell spent some €26 million more than was necessary when he purchased Thornton Hall and it now seems that the people of Shankill are to suffer the consequences because they will be denied this land and the potential for social and affordable housing and public amenities that it could provide."


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