Thornton Hall negotiations called off



Is this e-Voting MarkII? Thirty million paid for the land, but the prison to be built on it is too expensive? Or just a negotiating tactic?

The Irish Prison Service announced this evening it has broken off negotiations with the Léargas Consortium, the preferred bidder in the competition to design, build, maintain and finance a major prison facility at Thornton Hall in north county Dublin.

The Government paid some €30 million for agricultural land for the site, outside Swords in Co Dublin, as a location for the prison.

In a statement, the Irish Prison Service said the lengthy negotiations on the project came to a head recently. Léargas were formally requested to submit their final financial offer for the project. Their offer was deemed

“to be not affordable in light of the significant increase in the cost of finance”.
Thornton Hall 'too expensive' - The Irish Times - Tue, May 19, 2009


May 8, 2009
FF do not want to build capacity into the Prison system

especially not now as they lose their grip on power

bertie should push for the development though as I dont think he will be happy in the 'Joy


Well-known member
Jan 14, 2009
So let me understand this:

A FF-PD government bought land at double if not treble the correct price to build a prison.

The location chosen was all wrong for building the prison.

So having squandered millions on an unsuitable far too expensive green field site, the whole project is off!!!

It seems like we now own the most farmland on the country. :lol:

Well done, FF-PD. Almost literally, you have outbid yourselves in sheer utter stupidity.


Well-known member
Dec 15, 2008
I believe it's a disgrace the conditions prisoners are currently kept in.

I also believe it's not good to send prisoners to an inaccessible place away from their families in the middle of nowhere like Thornton Hall.


Well-known member
Mar 20, 2005
Given the epidemic of violent crime, we desperately need more prisons. But the procrastination in this affair needs to be investigated to prevent it happening again. If there has been any wrongdoing by persons in this affair since its inception under other ministers then it should be severely punished.
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Interesting the way the reference to the "significant increase in the cost of finance" in the prision services statement above ties in with this story from last Sept.

Sunday Business Post | Irish Business News

Léargas, the consortium selected to build the project on behalf of the state, was forced to tell the Department of Justice that the turmoil in the international credit markets was having a major impact on the proposed prison, which is being developed as a public private partnership (PPP).

With the cost of credit escalating and potential lenders withdrawing their credit lines, the consortium informed the government that the cost of constructing the facility was rising fast.

Just months after winning the battle to build the prison, Léargas now wants a new deal from the government. In particular, the consortium wants the terms of the original PPP to be recast to take into account the changed economic climate.
Leargas are headed by McNamara's with Barclays Private Equity and GSL, an international prison operator. Between McNamara's difficulties and the state coffers it is hardly surprising that this was the result. After the way McNamara's ditched the housing PPP's in Dublin last year it would be nice if this caused him some grief..


Well-known member
Apr 8, 2009
Absolutely. That deal was a disgrace. Three times market value without PP at the top of the market, no less.
More than three times JC. Between 8 and 10. The most comparable land out that way had been sold for €26k an acre but we paid €200k (yes, two hundred) an acre. Some other nearby land went for €20k an acre. Interestingly, we also bought more...

Pat Rabbitte said:

Huge amounts of public money have been spent on this project yet we are no nearer to actually knowing when, if ever, a singe additional prison place will be created. We know that the former Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, sanctioned the purchase of the site at Thornton Hall at a cost of €29.9m, but a recent parliamentary question I tabled established that a further 8.7 acres had been acquired at a cost of €1.3m, while a further €10.3m had been spent on professional fees and site works, including landscaping," he said.

"What this means is that €41.5m of tax payers money has been spent on what has all the appearances of being another white elephant," he added.
So in the severest downturn we're still paying just shy of €150k an acre. Senator Joe O'Toole's brother-in-law must be a very happy man indeed. O'Toole himself claims he hasn't benefited


Well-known member
Jun 19, 2006


Well-known member
Jan 20, 2009
I don't understand why the land was bought before negotiations were complete.

It's like buying alloys for a car, and then finding you can't afford the car, or furniture for a house you end up not buying.

A five year old would do better in government than FF.

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