Check Against Delivery

Lord Mayor, Elected Representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to be here with you today, along with our new Lord Mayor, to open Larkhill Scout Hall for the 44th Dublin Scout Group, constructed with the help of the Irish Prison Service, through the Mountjoy Prison Community Work-Party. This is not alone a building of bricks and mortar but a tangible expression of the Irish Prison Service's commitment to, and involvement in, the community.

In 2004, in conjunction with Dublin City Council, an application was made to the Prison authorities on behalf of the Scouts Group to engage the Community Work-Party from Mountjoy Prison in order to carry out urgent repairs to the building. Work on the necessary repairs to the building commenced in February 2005, and the finished product that we see before us today is a testament to hard work which has been carried out to a high standard.

The outcome of this project is an excellent example of what can be achieved with co-operation, determination and teamwork between the local community organisations and the State in the criminal justice area. The resulting building showcases the expertise and dedication of the men from Mountjoy who have worked here over the past year to restore this building. The hall will provide quality facilities for the 44th Scout Group for many years to come and the Lord Mayor, along with Dublin City Council, are willing to offer support to the Scouts to ensure the viability of the building in the years to come and great credit is due to them for this support.

This is a most successful community effort under the aegis of the Lord Mayor and Dublin City Council and most ably aided by the Mountjoy Community Work Party.

The Mountjoy Community Work-Party has been in operation since May 1978 and to date well over one thousand offenders have been involved in a total of twenty - two community based building projects.   They have carried out work in this regard in areas such as Ballinascorney, Greenhills, Bawnogue, Walkinstown, Quarryvale, Hartstown and Huntstown.  The recreational facilities provided through their labours have played a crucial role in improving outlets for young people in the local communities involved. Offender work projects provide not just occupational training and an outlet for offenders during their time in custody. They also provide a unique opportunity to give something back to society to which a debt of honour and an act of reparation may well be due by the individual offender. This project is indeed a prime example of that restoration and the 'giving back' to society.

Not alone have the members of the Work-Party over the years regained their place in society but over the years many have gained full time employment on their release from Mountjoy.

Congratulations are due to Governor John Lonergan and Officers Neil McGrory and Fergal Doherty for their oversight and supervision of this excellent community project.  I wish all the members of the Work-Party well and look forward to their next undertaking. 

I am also well aware that the success of this Scout Group and Hall depends on the commitment of the people involved in running it.  You make a real, and often hidden, difference for good to the lives of the young people you work with.  I am well aware that for some of you this is a 24/7 commitment, and it cannot be forgotten that drive for this project came from the enthusiastic fundraising undertaken by the Scouts themselves, their Scout Leaders and their friends and families.

In support of that, I am delighted to be able to make a small contribution of 5,000 Euro on behalf of the Irish Prison Service and the Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform to support the fit-out of the new Den.

In conclusion, the Irish Prison Service is very proud, through its Work-Party projects, to be associated with Scouting Ireland and today we celebrate the reopening of this building, and mark the welcome return of the 44th (Dublin) Whitehall Scouts who, having vacated their hall with a complement of twenty-five scouts, proudly return with over three times that number.

ENDS - 11 July 2006