Article from the October 2005 issue of the Socialist
newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI

Fingal Residents say :
"Thornton Hall, not a prison wall"

By Teresa McDonnell, Secretary, Rolestown St. Margaret's Action Group

THE 26 January 2005 is forever etched on the memories of the people of Rolestown and St Margaret's in North Co. Dublin. That was the day Minister McDowell, announced that the government had approved the purchase of a 150-acre site at Thornton Hall, North Co. Dublin, to serve as the location for a new prison complex to replace Mountjoy.

We heard the announcement like everyone else on the one o'clock news. We were shocked and astonished, thrown into a state of utter disbelief. In a moment we were disempowered and disenfranchised.

We were landed this as a done deal and the planning process allowed for no effective input from citizens. There was no consultation of any kind with the local community in respect of this prison proposal prior to the announcement. And despite reassurances of full consultation with the local community, nine months later the Irish Prison Service and the Minister are still refusing to meet with us.

How will this development affect our area? There is no mains sewerage, road access is via a small country road, no public lighting or footpaths, and public transport is over a mile away. Are we to endure at least five years of intensive building works as the government tries to make up for deficiencies that should have ruled this site out in the first place? Whose homes or farms will be subject to compulsory purchase orders to provide infrastructure to this badly located development? How long can local farmers continue to farm around such a vast development? How can a rural farming community survive this?

A development of this size cannot be hidden away quietly in a rural setting. It will change everything. Exactly how? - We can only begin to imagine. We have seen communities live with the legacy of bad planning, lack of foresight and careless disregard for conservation. We thought we lived in a more enlightened era. This is not progress. This is state-sponsored vandalism.

See the Joe Higgins Column for more on these developments

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