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20/10/2021

Sluggish progress made on vital multi-million euro State building job projects in Laois

Minster of State seeks update on Garda Station, Courthouse, Prison all require rebuilds or extensive renovations

Portlaoise Garda Station

Portlaoise Garda Station's upgrade was included in the National Development Plan which expires this year.

The status of key building projects that could create valuable jobs in Laois through multi-million investment involved has been raised with Government departments, the Gardaí and Irish Prison Service.

Sean Fleming TD, Minister of State at the Department of Finance, says he has has had detailed discussions with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to advancing two of projects in Portlaoise as part of the update of the new National Development Plan (NDP).

At least one, the overhaul and expansion of Portlaoise's Garda HQ, was promised to be delivered in the existing NDP but it expires in 2021. The new NDP is expected to be published in October.

Details plans have been drawn up for the project but money has never been released. The old building would be refurbished with and a new linked building constructed. A Defence Forces construction project at town's prison complex is linked to the redevelopment.

Two sets of plans had to be drawn up - the most recent of which were published in late 2020 by the local gardaí and the Office of Public Works.

Minister Fleming says he has taken the matter up with Garda HQ in Dublin.

"I have spoken directly with all concerned to ensure that the new Garda Síochána Divisional Headquarters in Portlaoise is fully supported and funding made available in the new National Development Plan. This new Divisional Headquarters will be for counties Laois, Offaly and Kildare. This project is essential to ensure we have adequate modern policing facilities available throughout the region," he said.

Minister Fleming did not say in his statement what responses he received but he did publish the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in respect to Garda HQ.

It said spending under the new 2021-25 National Development Plan will be a matter for the specific government dpeartments. It added that improvement works are a matter for Garda Commissioner Drew Harris in the first instance as to how the work will be prioritised within a capital budget.

Minister Fleming was also told that the Department of Justice has advised that the Gardaí are reviewing their investment programme from 2022-2030 based on money allocated up to 2025. It added that the redevelopment of Portlaoise station remains 'a top priority' for the gardaí.

Another long promised project is a new Courthouse for Portlaoise. A site has been purchased near County Hall but no work has taken place. The Fianna Fáil TD says he has also raised the matter. 

"I have also specifically had discussions to prioritise a new Courthouse in Portlaoise. A site has been acquired and I have requested priority be assigned to this in the new National Development Plan. This is an important new facility for Portlaoise, as through the years many people have complained about the inadequate space and the location of the existing Courthouse on the Main Street in Portlaoise," he said.

Another project on the backburner is the upgrade of Ireland's high security jail which houses gangsters and paramilitaries. Minster Fleming claims he has also tried to push this along.

"I have also been in touch with the Department about completing upgrade works in Portlaoise Prison. This is the only high security prison in the State and many of the facilities are over 100yrs old and need to be upgraded at this time," he said.

Comment has been sought from the Department of Justice, the Gardaí, the OPW and the Irish Prison Service.

 

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