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Dublin: 13 °C Friday 22 February, 2019
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Protest planned as ex-soldiers and families face eviction from Curragh Camp

The government has previously said it would be too costly to carry out repairs to the ageing properties.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

SEVERAL EX-SOLDIERS, THEIR families, and widows of deceased members will hold a protest tomorrow outside Leinster House as part of a battle against eviction from the Curragh Camp.

These residents live in housing that was provided by the Department of Defence to serving members of the Defence Forces.

A policy change almost two decades ago stated that they must leave these properties when they were no longer serving members of the military.

However, this was never implemented, with residents, referred to as “overholders” continuing to live at the camp and pay rent.

“These people are now elderly, retired, living on military pensions, they don’t have anywhere else to go,” local independent councillor Joanne Pender told TheJournal.ie, “they can’t afford private rental accommodation.

There was a duty of care from the Department of Defence, [residents] thought they were going to provide housing for the soldiers but now they’ve left it 17 years.

Pender said one resident has been living at the camp for 55 years.

“When you’ve been living there for a long period you’re almost institutionalised, having spent your whole live in the bubble that is the Curragh Camp. You never have to leave for anything.

“They’re expecting elderly people to pick that all up and go somewhere else,” she said.

The Department of Defence is expected to address the issue tomorrow morning, when Junior Minister Paul Kehoe will answer a number of questions in the Dáil on the issue.

The former Minister for Defence Alan Shatter explained in the Dáil last month that that “the properties are in a very poor state and that the estimated cost of the repairs necessary to make them suitable as accommodation is simply prohibitive”.

While the outcome of the assessment is still under consideration, it is clear that any renovation would be very costly, would only deliver eight to nine viable units and would be very limited in terms of future military needs.

Previously in May, when Socialist TD Clare Daly called on the minister to end these evictions, Shatter said that  ”in accordance with normal procedures, [the Department is] seeking vacant possession of married quarters which are being overheld and will continue to do so until the overholding issue is resolved.”

“I cannot support the illegal occupation of military property by those who have no entitlement,” he said.

Read: Taoiseach to meet the troops serving in Lebanon >

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Nicky Ryan

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