Gates to an empty field cost taxpayer €68,000

GATES to an empty field have cost the taxpayer €68,000.

The field is the site of the proposed new detention facility at Oberstown in north Co Dublin for 16 and 17-year-olds. It is the only work done on the site to date and the gates and adjoining wall are the only structures on the field.

However, the project is no longer on the Government’s capital investment programme, although it says it “remains committed to ending the use of St Patrick’s Institution for the detention of 16 and 17-year-old males”.

In a response to specific questions on work done on the site, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs said: “Actual works completed to date on the site are limited to the erection of gates to form a construction entrance.”

This entrance was, it said to allow “the separation of construction traffic from day-to-day traffic on the site while development takes place. The cost of this work, which was carried out in early 2011, was €68,000 including VAT.”

However, the press office admitted that “the cost of the gates to form a construction entrance to the site is the only construction cost to date”.

It also emerged that €2.4 million has been committed to bringing the project through the design stage — despite a lack of commitment to fund the actual construction of the facility.

The work of completing the design process this year is to be done by Irish Youth Justice.

Labour senator Ivana Bacik yesterday described it as “scandalous” that the facility had not gone ahead yet.

“I would like to think the gates are a sign of intent to proceed with it. It is a scandal it hasn’t been built yet, there is no doubt about it,” she said.

Norah Gibbons, Barnardos director of advocacy, said: “We are very disappointed that plans to build a new detention centre for teenage boys have been postponed.

“Detaining a child in St Patrick’s Institution will only increase their chance of pursuing a life of crime. We must find viable alternative options for these vulnerable children.”

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