Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South Central, Micheál Martin, has condemned attempts by Justice Minister Alan Shatter to disband the 4th Infantry Battalion at Collins Barracks in Cork.
Deputy Martin commented: “I wholeheartedly condemn any effort by Minister Shatter to disband the 4th Infantry Battalion. The Minister needs to come clean here and admit what he is trying to do.
“The 4th Infantry Battalion is the largest unit in the Southern Brigade. This brigade serves not only Munster but counties like Wexford, Laois and Kilkenny.
“It is a shocking decision to try and cut 477 jobs. This would do irreplaceable damage to the army in the Cork and Munster region. The Minister has kept everyone in the dark and this whole episode has been conducted in a very slippery and underhanded manner.
“Despite announcing last December that the number of Brigades in the country will be reduced from three to two, the manner of these reductions has been haphazard.
“With the recent adverse weather conditions in Cork, not just last week, but during the freezing conditions of the last couple of winters and the floods of 2009, we have seen the army provide an invaluable public service. Without their swift intervention at the Mercy Hospital in 2009, a lot more lives would have been put at risk and patients would have been exposed to more disease. The army plays a huge role in disaster relief and disbanding the 4th Infantry Battalion robs the army of that capacity.
“I know of the proud tradition that the 4th Infantry Battalion has and the respect it commands throughout Cork. They deserve to be dealt with truthfully and any potential measures to disband the Battalion must be addressed sooner rather than later.
“This is a deeply regrettable move by the Minister and I am going to fight any efforts to close the Battalion. There is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty within the army personnel and their families because of this. I am calling on the Minister to clarify his stance immediately.”