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Dublin: 16 °C Sunday 16 June, 2019
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Protesters gather in bid to halt army barracks closure

Campaigners claim that Columb Barracks in Mullingar brings €8million into the local economy.

Columb Barracks in Mullingar
Columb Barracks in Mullingar

PROTESTERS ARE due to gather in Mullingar this afternoon in an attempt to prevent the Government from closing the town’s Columb Barracks.

Supporters of the campaign will gather at the Defence Forces facility and march to the town’s Market Square. Campaigners say the barracks – which are under consideration for closure as part of savings measures – contribute as much as €8million to the local economy.

Almost 3,000 people have joined a Facebook group opposing the barracks closure, while another 430 have signed an online petition directed at defence minister Alan Shatter.

Earlier this week, a Department of Defence spokesperson told TheJournal.ie that the government could not rule out barracks closures, but no decision had yet been taken.

Local Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy has backed the protest movement. Speaking in the Dáil two weeks ago, he said: “Columb Barracks is the last remaining artillery barracks in Ireland and, given its location in the geographical centre of the country, is of strategic importance.”

He added that the loss of the barracks would be “devastating to many families and to small businesses and their staff [in the town]who are fighting a hard battle to stay afloat with no support from this Government.”

Earlier this week, Fianna Fáil defence spokesperson Dara Calleary tabled a Dáil motion opposing any barracks closures. However, it was defeated in favour of a Fine Gael motion acknowledging that action was necessary to make savings.

Campaigners have released a video showing images from the history of the barracks:

Read more: Fianna Fáil to table Dáil motion against closure of army barracks>

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Michael Freeman

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