I for one would be curious to know whose land it was to sell…
You and me both.
Thornton Hall was mcdowells pet project, good to see it was $$ well spent
Decentralisation was just another taxpayer subsidy to the inner circle like nama is today
the seller id image in many cases was a dyed in the wool supporter of FFFG
Not talking about any specific case mentioned above but you’d have to fear that kickbacks were common in state contracts when the money was flowing like the amazon. Do we even have an agency to target fraudulant missallocation of citizens funds? I think Ahern left the Auditor Generals office underresourced and CAB are too busy with the gun totting type of criminals.
OPW just don’t appear to have the skills required to negotiate property purchases.
You’re most polite today dipole. Also let’s not forget the frivolous spending of councils is funded by commercial rates payers to a large degree.
Abbotstown is a green field with a new internal road system paid for by Leo Varadkar when he was sports minister…just saying.
I have been on the periphery of a few land deals in my time in the civil service so maybe I can make some general points.
Typically big land deals in the service are decided on by the minister and/or upper management but delivery is the responsibility of an assistant principal (AP) reporting to a principal officer (PO). The vast majority of APs that I have encountered are very competent at their regular job ie pushing paper. What is problematic is that their experiences tend to be very narrow and necessarily bureaucratic. Generally, an AP would not have any experience of business, commercial dealings or negotiation. It would not be so bad if departments provided support or had rules as guidance but beyond “get 3 quotes” the whole purchase is left to the individual officer.
The cases that I know of directly, the APs worked hard and spent a lot of time on the deals. They honestly were trying their best but delays crept in with the solicitors and negotiations with builders over office fit-outs and maintenance contracts. I have no doubt that a commercial entity would have done the deals quicker and cheaper but not by a huge amount. The deals went through fine and everyone was happy. You will never read about the good cases in the Indo.
It is also worth remembering that what made sense once is folly now. Take Thornton Hall. The idea was to take a green field and build a new modern prison instead of the expense of modernising Mountjoy. Once Thornton Hall was completed, it would take in Mountjoy’s prison population allowing the Mountjoy site in the centre of the city to be sold for development. The whole deal was expected to make money, increase prison places, reduce prison costs and improve prisoner conditions. Then 2007 happened.
A final point, I know Bearishbull’s comment about kickbacks was made in 2011 but I think that is worth addressing. Civil servants are many things but as a rule dishonest would not one of them. I know of only one case of a civil servant taking a bribe and it was not in a land deal.
I do not want to have this comment erased for legal reasons so this next comment will be vague. If there is bribery it would be at the level of the political appointees to state boards. In the main, state boards contract out for services rather than make land purchases.
I would consider state boards to be vastly more corrupt than the line civil service and Irish Water is a fine example of that with their outrageous spend on consultants since their formation. No party appointments seem to be any better than the rest when it comes to cronyism and corrupt practices once parachuted onto a state board.
In terms of land purchases for decentralisation the worst one I can remember was in Country Toms constituency down in Birr. As this project involved the utterly rotten FáS as well as property experts associates of Country Tom and local FF/FG gene pool ‘developers’ I am not in the least surprised.
The local FG TD , Ms Enright, kept forcing the issue as well…asking how many FáS functionaries were down in Birr on a regular basis.
I’d be at a loss to figure which of these players was worst in hindsight.
What SecretCivilServant says is spot on. None of these are examples of ADMINISTRATIVE incompetence, they are examples of POLITICAL incompetence.
They mainly stem from the 2003 announcement to decentralise x civil servants to y specific places in a short space of time. This was dreamt up by politicians in its entirety . It left local landowners with the state over a barrel. Political pressure was massive to deliver x bums by a certain date in a certain place. A lot of the costs stem from the delays which are ironically a product of the MUCH HIGHER levels of probity and due diligence expected when the state is involved. Can an Apple shareholder expect a detailed report on how a chunk of land for a data centre was purchased outside Athenry? I think not.
Anyway, decentralisation was abandoned while about 1/3 complete due to cost implications. Nowadays a lot of decentralised civil servants with any policy function at all spend a lot of time travelling to and from Dublin for meetings. Many of them even have desks and PCs in two places.
This sort of thing is endemic on the smaller scale too. A work colleague is married to a county councillor and she went looking for solutions to the leaky portacabins in the local school. What she found was that the portacabins had been rented for over 10 years for an eye watering annual fee when two years outlay would actually buy brand new and far better equipped portacabins.
When she dug further, she discovered no tender process for the original cabins and that it was a local party fixer type who was collecting free money every year for doing nothing.
Confirmation that FG are indeed no longer the party of ‘law and order’
Thornton Hall prison site that cost State €51m offered for housing
Jail housing 2,200 envisaged in 2005 now regarded as ‘counterproductive’
irishtimes.com/news/crime-a … -1.3756763
Anybody’s guess what will happen to Thornton Hall but it won’t be a prison. It was an albatross around the neck of the Department of Justice but now they have a “get out jail free” card: hand it over for social housing. When it comes to excusing waste, housing the homeless is almost on a par with caring for sick children.
dublinpeople.com/news/norths … ertainty-/
Penal reformers always opposed construction of a large prison but the government ignored them and decided to build a 1,400-cell prison at Thornton Hall. Alan Shatter decided to go for a small prison in Thornton Hall but now the Department is using the penal reformers argument as an excuse to walk away from Thornton Hall without any plan for dealing prison overcrowding.
No wonder our judges can defy the wishes of the vast majority of Irish people and give bail to anyone who promises to turn up for trial. Which, to their credit, the defendants in these cases have done. Unfortunately, in the meantime, they were a very naughty boys.
extra.ie/2019/02/16/news/irish- … lock-ennis
Note the cunning move by the judge - by suspending the father’s sentence in its entirely (for no apparent reason) he denies the brothers their constitutional right to family unity and to their father’s guidance and counsel at this most crucial time in the lives of young criminals. They would be better treated if they were non-citizens in “direct provision”. Give it a few years and this family, or others like them, will be given social housing in Thornton Hall. Justice works in mysterious ways when the prison system is overflowing with fine-defaulters.
This could be false memory syndrome, but I’m fairly sure the Irish prisons service, and not just penal reformers, was always pushing for several smaller prisons because that seems to work best internationally. It was McDowell who decided instead that a single jumbo prison was better.
Large prisons are also called “concentration camps”.