Trust to buy building set aside for prisoners leaving jail

The Cork Civic Trust is poised to make an offer to buy a State-owned city property earmarked for a controversial step-down facility for ex-prisoners.

Trust to buy building set aside for prisoners leaving jail

The move by the non-profit voluntary body provides a real alternative to the Department of Justice’s proposals for its Westview House facility on St Patrick’s Hill, said local Fianna Fáil councillor Ken O’Flynn.

It is expected that the Trust’s offer will be presented to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald soon.

“I believe that this is a very tangible solution for the department to sell the building to such a well-known and prominent organisation with a track record of conservation and project management in our city,” said Mr O’Flynn.

The Trust said that it would envisage developing Westview as a centre to promote international relations through civic projects including a diaspora tourism project.

Westview House has been used for some years by the Probation Service, initially as a residential facility for young males, since 1982, and more recently, since 2006, as a Probation Project day centre for young people.

The Probation Service has recently relocated Young Persons Probation staff from the facility to the main Probation office in Cork, and probation project activities in Westview have been scaled down, while its future use is being considered.

“No decision has yet been made as to future use however,” a department spokesman said.

“The possible options for the use of the premises are under consideration including its potential use as a ‘step down’ facility for female ex-prisoners from the Cork/Munster area.”

This has prompted intense opposition from local residents who say the area is unsuitable for such a facility given the high concentration of schools in the area.

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