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515 military staff, and 25 civilians, are to be relocated as part of plans to close four army barracks. Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Government confirms closure of four military barracks

Military barracks at Mullingar, Cavan, Clonmel and Castlebar are to close, with 515 military and 25 civilian staff to be relocated.

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has confirmed that four provincial military barracks facilities are to close, with 540 staff – the majority of them army personnel – set to be relocated to other facilities.

The Taoiseach confirmed in the Dáil this afternoon that decisions had been reached to close the Defence Forces facilities in Mullingar, Clonmel, Cavan and Castlebar.

The four barracks will close with their properties to be sold, with the funds from the sales to go towards infrastructure and investment in army facilities.

Kenny said that the previous government had closed ten barracks while in office, and had sold six of those to raise €85m which was then invested back into the Defence Forces.

“The government is anxious to maintain the strength of the army at operational level,” Kenny said, insisting that jobs would not be lost and dismissing opposition claims that the move was among one of the larger rounds of job losses.

“This is not the same as Aviva, or TalkTalk, where jobs are lost and where there’s a resultant move to social protection,” the Taoiseach asserted. “No job is being lost here.”

Kenny also dismissed complaints from Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins who said the closures would have grave economic consequences for the towns concerned.

“If you look at the areas where barracks have closed over last 10-15 years, economic consequence has not been as you say… personnel have not moved from a barracks that has been closed.

“The local economy is still the beneficiary of wages and salaries of personnel in the Defence Forces.”

No specific timeframe was given by the Taoiseach for when the closures are due to take place.

The 540 affected state – 515 Army personnel, and 25 civilians – will be offered a nine-month relocation allowance if they move to a new barracks, Kenny said, though only a minority of staff affected by previous closures had ultimately chosen to move house.

The closure of Columb Barracks in Mullingar has caused the first resignation from the cabinet: junior minister Willie Penrose, a Labour TD for Longford-Westmeath, has quit the government and Labour party over the closure.

Fianna Fáil defence spokesman Dara Calleary described the decision as a “costly mistake”, describing the news as “the start of a damaging agenda from Defence Minister Alan Shatter to shut down a number of key army and garda facilities across the country”.

This strategy was “without cause and without benefit,” Calleary said, calling on government TDs in Westmeath, Tipperary, Cavan and Mayo to stand up and oppose the cabinet decision.

Labour TD resigns from government over barracks closure >

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