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File photo: Thornton Hall site

Modular and prefab units to be used to house asylum seekers on Thornton Hall site

Thornton Hall will be in operation in four to six weeks.

MODULAR PREFABRICATED UNITS are to be used to house asylum seekers at the Thornton Hall site in North Dublin. 

It was announced last week that that the 156-acre site, owned by the Department of Justice, will be utilised for “emergency-style accommodation”. 

Since 2005, the State has spent millions of euro on the site, where a proposed new ‘super prison’ was to be built, but never proceeded. Just last month, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said the matter of a prison on the site was still under consideration. 

The Department of Integration had previously flagged a year ago that a significant portion of the Thornton Hall site could be made available if deemed suitable for the accommodation needs by the responsible bodies.

It is now understood that both tented accommodation and modular units will be used on the site. 

Tánaiste Micheál Martin said over the weekend that Thornton Hall will be ready to accommodate asylum seekers in four to six weeks time.

“We will be initially looking at a tented accommodation there as we have provided tented accommodation on other pieces that have State-owned land,” he said.

“We will look then to upgrade that in terms of a rapid build modular units but it will be tented accommodation initially,” Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman said this week. 

A spokesperson for government said planning permission for such units was not required for the units. 

They said tented accommodation would be used on site in the short-term with the intention to move to more permanent modular buildings in the medium-term, particularly ahead of colder winter months. 

They added that it was a very “challenging” situation stating that assessments were still be carried out. 

It was confirmed that Thornton Hall is just one of a number of state-owned sites that will be used for asylum seeker accommodation, though the number of sites under consideration has not been clarified. 

A spokesperson said that a “decent amount” of offers of state land have been made to government. 

On the issue of the moving of the tents in Dublin today and barriers being placed along the canal, a government spokesperson said when dealing with the issue of accommodation for asylum seekers, “we’re coming at this from all angles”. 

In terms of barriers and how long they might be in place around the city, they said that it was a “matter for the city council”. 

“They are not permanent. Nobody wants to see them permanently there. But nobody wants to see human beings sleeping on the side of the street either,” they added. 

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