Dáil Éireann - Volume 637 - 26 June, 2007
Written Answers. - Prison Building Programme.
Deputy Leo Varadkar Deputy Leo Varadkar
Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he plans to carry out a review of the decision to relocate Mountjoy to Thornton Hall; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17751/07]
Deputy Brian Lenihan Deputy Brian Lenihan
Deputy Brian Lenihan: As the Deputy is aware, a decision to replace prison facilities at Mountjoy was taken by the previous Government in November 2004. Since then some €29.9 million has been spent in the context of procuring land at Thornton Hall in Co. Dublin. In April 2007, a preferred bidder for the work involved in realising this project was selected and negotiations between this party and officials of my Department are at an advanced stage.
There is an urgent need to replace the facilities at Mountjoy. Conditions there have been severely criticised by the Council of Europe’s European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Inspector of Prisons. Its facilities are out-dated and incapable of meeting the challenges of administering a modern, progressive and safe prison system. This is particularly so in the context of the Government’s stated aim to make prisons drug free environments. Redeveloping the existing 20 acre site at Mountjoy is not viable from an operational or developmental perspective. The construction of the new facility on a green field site will address the problems associated with the Mountjoy site and will, in addition, offer significant improvements in the areas of work training, education, and medical services as well as providing single cell accommodation with in-cell sanitation.
The Programme for Government provides for investment in rehabilitation services, the development of individualised programmes for prisoners based on risk assessment and rehabilitation needs  and incentives for prisoners to participate in such programmes. Fundamental to the achievement of this objective is an ability to categorise prisoners effectively. Thornton will provide the necessary facilities to achieve this. In the circumstances I do not see any purpose in reviewing the Government’s decision at this time.
Dáil Éireann 637 Written Answers. Prison Building Programme.