Friday 24 November 2006

Locals angry over prison speculation

ANGER and surprise were expressed by local representatives and community leaders yesterday as they learnt that an army camp in North Cork could become the site of a €70 million prison.

The Department of Justice has admitted that it’s looking at the 1,200-acre Kilworth Camp, near Fermoy, for a new 500-cell prison having faced stiff opposition to locate it on Spike Island, Cobh.

“I was stunned to hear this could happen without there being any consultation. I don’t think it’s appropriate for the area and I’m opposed to it,” Cllr Aileen Pyne said.

Cllr Frank O’Flynn said he was very surprised and annoyed that as a member of the Fianna Fáil National Executive he’d hadn’t been informed of the move.

Cllr Liam O’Doherty said he was “very angry” at the way the information came out, especially as the Kilworth and Araglin communities were currently locked in a battle with Valeco, which want to build a €75 million anaerobic waste digester just a stone’s throw from proposed prison.

Deputy Paul Bradford said he’d had a brief discussion with Minister for Justice Michael McDowell who’s admitted that his officials were examining the Kilworth site.

“It is being investigated, no more no less. The question of Spike Island hasn’t been taken off the agenda yet,” Deputy Bradford said.

However, the news has been warmly welcomed by Cobh Tourism chairman, Michael Martin,

“Spike Island contains 10 times more history than Alcatraz and Port Arthur put together. This island needs to be preserved and presented for future generations of Irish and other visitors,” Mr Martin said.

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