Fingal County Council’s refusal to support plans for a controversial prison in north Co Dublin prove the project is doomed, local residents claimed today.
With councillors insisting they will not assist the development, the Rolestown St Margaret’s Action Group (RSMAG) said it proved that the 150 acre site at Thornton Hall, Killasaghan was the wrong site.
The Government paid €30m last year for 150 acres of farmland as part of plans for a new home for Mountjoy Prison.
But Fingal council last night passed a motion opposing the project.
“We are delighted with this action by Fingal Co Council. Yet again the minister is being told that Thornton Hall is not a suitable site for this development,” said RSMAG spokeswoman Nessa Shevlin.
“We have been left with no democratic rights in this process. This community and its environment face decimation if this unsustainable development goes ahead.
“Paying €30m for a site does not make it suitable, throwing more and more money at it will still not make it suitable. Thornton Hall is the wrong site.”
The motion, put forward by Fine Gael councillor Leo Varadkar, called on Fingal Co Council to oppose the prison plan.
Passing the motion unanimously, the council said it would be telling Justice Minister Michael McDowell that it would not assist in facilitating the development.
The council also accepted recommendations that Thornton Hall be made a protected structure.
A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service insisted this would not affect any plans for the prison.
“There will be no difficulties with the house,” he said. “It’s not a problem at all, people are assuming that we are going to demolish the house, that’s not the case at all.”
But it is unclear whether the council are legally entitled to refuse to co-operate.
It is understood Fingal Council is obliged to provide all developments with clean water and adequate sewerage.
However, it has also been suggested that authorities could refuse to co-operate on the building of new roads.
Currently a preliminary report on work needed to improve road, electricity and sewerage links is being prepared. Archaeologists are also assessing the Thornton Hall site.
But the Prison Service spokesman insisted moves were well underway to have a masterplan for the prison ready by the summer and for building work to begin in 2007.
A High Court challenge to the procedure adopted by the minister in selecting the Thornton site and claiming it is a national monument is to begin on February 14.