Fianna Fáil will introduce a Private Members Motion in the Dáil today (Tuesday) opposing the closure of a number of key army barracks around the country and condemning the Defence Minister’s refusal to rule out the closure of any army barracks, regardless of its integral role in the local area.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Defence Dara Calleary has said the party is deeply concerned by reports that a number of barracks have been earmarked for closure, such as the Dún Úi Neill barracks in Cavan, Columb Barracks in Mullingar, Kickham barracks Clonmel, James Stephens Barracks in Kilkenny and the Military Barracks in Castlebar.
Deputy Calleary said: “For towns like Mullingar, Cavan and Clonmel, the army barracks is an integral part of the community and of the local economy. The recent reports that the Government plans to shut these facilities has caused great distress not only to the hundreds of army and civil personnel directly affected, but also to the wider communities. There is no avoiding the fact that forcing these barracks to close will cost jobs and hurt local businesses.
“The army bases in these towns are hubs of economic activity. They support both direct and indirect employment; they generate a demand for local goods and services; and in many cases they are of historical and cultural importance. The soldiers and their families are an integral part of the fabric of life in Cavan, Mullingar, Clonmel and other towns with army bases nationwide.
“A barracks consolidation plan has already been implemented over the past number of years due to the changing security situation in the North, and the money saved was reinvested in the Defence Forces to modernise facilities nationwide. There is no need for any further barracks closures. Fianna Fáil is calling on the Government to reconsider this short-sighted and ill-advised policy in the interest of supporting economic growth in army towns across the State. We are also calling on the Government to develop a national strategy to maximise the effectiveness of the Defence Forces that encompasses their role in the towns in which they are based.