Written Answers. - Phibsborough (Dublin) Site.


asked the Minister for Justice if he is aware that the St. Vincent's School site at Prospect Road, Dublin 9 is a cause of grave concern because it is being used as a hide-out for young cider drinkers and drug addicts; that this site is used as an escape route for those who have committed crime in the vicinity of the site; if he is further aware of the amount of money which was spent on the cleaning and repairing of the railings around the site; the reason the proposed use for this site was changed; how long it will be before a use is decided upon, and put in action; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The Garda authorities inform me that they are not aware of any problem of the dimension suggested by the Deputy and have not received complaints to this effect. A serious problem existed up to the middle of 1983 but I am informed that this has not been so since the old derelict buildings were demolished and the property better enclosed at that time.

As the Deputy will be aware, there are many open spaces, some of which adjoin the property, to which access may be gained by persons disposed to create nuisance of the sort outlined in the question. Nevertheless, I am assured that the property is not the focal point of any such problem.

The former St. Vincent's School at Hart's Corner, Philbsborough, Dublin and about 7 acres was purchased in August 1980 and, as stated in a reply to a parliamentary question on 16 October 1980, was intended to be the location for a Staff Training Centre for the Prison Service and for 60 official staff houses to replace old staff housing in the North Circular Road, which is gone beyond economic repair.

Clearance of the site and proper enclosure, preliminary to construction, was to have commenced in 1981 but the financial stringency which began to apply around that time made it impossible to incur the expenditure which the work would have involved and also caused the project to be postponed.

I am of course aware of the fact that money was spent not only on the railings but on other protective works to prevent misuse of the property by delinquents. Various representations, including representations by the Deputy, had been made to my Department with a view to having such measures taken.

The whole question of providing official accommodation for Prison Service personnel was reconsidered in 1981-82 and, in view of the altered economic climate, the expense of providing official housing that would be maintainable at low cost and — on the other hand — the greatly improved earnings of prison officers, it was decided, as part of a wider policy not to provide further official houses for staff, that replacement housing for the North Circular Road houses would not be undertaken.

Recently it was decided that Beladd House, Portlaoise, which was originally intended as an official staff residence for unmarried personnel and a staff canteen, would be adapted as a staff Training Centre.

If resources become available to proceed with the second prison planned for Portlaoise, it may be necessary to make Beladd House available for unmarried officers and general staff catering. In those circumstances, present indications are that it would be desirable to have the Hart's Corner property available to relocate the staff training facility in Dublin. Furthermore, the site is the only substantial undeveloped site located so conveniently to the custodial complex at Mountjoy and to Arbour Hill and may be required for other ancillary facilities related to them, apart altogether from staff training. Incidentally, the property is not envisaged as a site for custodial accommodation.

It is not possible in present circumstances, when restrictions on financial outlay for capital purposes still apply, to say when further development of the property is likely to commence.