Fianna Fáil TD for Longford – Westmeath Robert Troy has sought reassurance from the government over its long term commitment to Custume barracks in Athlone. Deputy Troy made the comments after he raised the matter in the Dáil with Minister Coveney and pointed out that under DFR / S.I. CS4 the permitted number of personnel assigned to the base has fallen by approximately 580 since 2012.
Deputy Troy commented, “Since this government came to office there has been a significant reduction in the number of people serving in the Defence Forces. One of its first acts in office was to stand down the 4th western brigade and remove the brigade headquarters and its associated brigade units from Athlone.
“Figures made available to me have shown that in 2012 there were 12 units attached to Custume barracks. Under DFR / S.I. CS4 this amounted to 1,440 personnel being permitted to serve at the base. However the government has allowed the barracks to be downgraded to such an extent that there are now only 860 soldiers permitted to serve there under DFR / S.I. CS4. This means that there are now approximately 580 fewer personnel attached to the barracks on a permanent basis.
“Fianna Fáil was highly critical of the government’s decision to stand down the 4th western brigade when the decision was announced in 2012. I have long argued that this could lead to the mothballing of Custume barracks over time.
“The government needs to recognise that the presence of an active Custume barracks is vital to the economy and community life of the wider Athlone region. Further investment is needed in Custume barracks rather than damaging cutbacks.”