Irish Independent

The Opposition has attacked “escalating costs” and a possible year-long delay in building a new “super prison” in north Dublin.

Almost €37m has been spent by the government on the Thornton Hall site before a “sod is turned or a block is even laid,” according to Fine Gael.

In addition to the €31.2m spent on 159 acres in north Co Dublin, another €5.6m has been spent on preparing the site for construction, according to new figures.

Construction of the largest prison in the State is not expected to start until later this year, after which it will take three years to complete.

The controversial Thornton Hall site in Dublin cost the state €200,000 per acre. At the time, adjoining sites could be bought for between €20,000 and €30,000 per acre.

Last night,Fine Gael’s Charlie Flanagan said he had grave concerns about the “escalating costs”.

“It also seems that we could be set for a delay in seeing the prison open. The Government originally said it should be ready by 2010 but the minister is now talking about it taking approximately three years to build,” he said.

However, a spokeswoman for the Justice Minister said that while there had been a delay with the Environmental Impact Statement, the process was going ahead as planned.

Yesterday, it also emerged that the Government proposes to build a separate detention centre in Thornton Hall for foreign nationals such as asylum seekers or illegal immigrants.