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Monday 15 July 2019

Farmer ordered to move livestock from 'super prison' land

The Thornton Hall site
The Thornton Hall site

Sarah Slater

A farmer who placed animals on land earmarked for a 'super prison' that was never built is facing legal action if he does not remove them.

Jim Scully (52), who has lived on Kilreesk Lane in St Margaret's, north Co Dublin, since 1989, placed cattle and horses on the 165-acre site known as Thornton Hall in Kilsallaghan, Swords, in November as it has been lying idle for 15 years.

In 2005, the country's first planned 'super prison' was mooted for the site.

The State bought Thornton Hall for around €32m - but it is now estimated to be worth just €2.4m.

The Prison Service revealed earlier this year that almost €51m has been spent on the site since 2005. All expenditure has now stopped, apart from payments for security patrols.

Plans to build a prison there have been abandoned and the bulk of the site has now been offered to the State's new house-building body, the Land Development Agency.

Mr Scully received a letter from the Chief State Solicitor's Office on behalf of Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan last week.

It read: "It has been brought to our attention that you continue to graze cattle on the minister's lands without permission.

"Please note that if you do not vacate and remove all livestock from the said lands within seven days... we have instructions to take whatever steps are necessary to protect the minister's interests, including the immediate issuing of legal proceedings."

Mr Scully admits he placed the livestock without liaising with the Department of Justice.

However, he asked: "What harm could be done by the animals grazing down the grass as the land has been idle for 15 years?

"I will see what happens over the next few days from the Chief Solicitor's Office. I would dispute any comment made that there are weekly patrols around the site as there haven't been any in a long time."

The Department of Justice issued a statement saying it could not comment on matters that are subject to legal proceedings.


This article originally used an archive photo of the entrance to Thornton Hall which included RMS Security signage. We are happy to clarify that Gerry McDonnell CEO and RMS Security no longer have any connection with the provision of security services at Thornton Hall.

Irish Independent

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