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Left100
20th September 2011, 20:08
Troops were told yesterday apparently Save Columb Barracks page up on Facebook!
Pity a really great barracks and units both PDF and reserve.

RoyalGreenJacket
20th September 2011, 22:54
yes but surely the troops / units will just relocate?

goc132
20th September 2011, 23:07
Facebook page is "KEEP COLUMB BARRACKS OPEN" has nearly 2000 members in less than 6 hours a lot of votes.

Goldie fish
20th September 2011, 23:11
Playing devils advocate here, what strategic reason is there to keep it open?

goc132
20th September 2011, 23:15
Accommodation what other BKS has the space. think about it

RoyalGreenJacket
20th September 2011, 23:22
Accommodation what other BKS has the space. think about it

well obviously they have thought about it, and they must be moving the troops to another barracks where there is accommodation.

FMolloy
20th September 2011, 23:27
Accommodation what other BKS has the space. think about it

Accomodation is hardly a strategic reason, is it?

Goldie fish
20th September 2011, 23:39
Accommodation what other BKS has the space. think about it

You say accomodation, I say inefficient use of space. Athlone is too close to you.

ZULU
20th September 2011, 23:52
http://forum.irishmilitaryonline.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=5260&d=1274452607

for reference

Truck Driver
21st September 2011, 00:17
So it's confirmed that it is closing then ? Hasn't hit the media yet, AFAIK...

morpheus
21st September 2011, 00:21
just looks like giant square with an accommodation block on 3 sides, a church and some parking spaces...

Goldie fish
21st September 2011, 13:26
The Buildings(like every barracks in ireland) is of historic significance, but otherwise, nothing unique that would require it remain in DF hands.
14 acres is 14 acres.

trellheim
21st September 2011, 13:31
Might I ask how this is confirmed. Has anyone got a link to it.

morpheus
21st September 2011, 14:46
theyre talking about it in the news section!

but this quote from willie penrose? "Ireland’s only artillery barracks" is this true? does that mean that its the only barracks which has nobody BUT arty in it!?

Victor
21st September 2011, 14:52
Minister wants Army barracks to stay open
EOGHAN MacCONNELL

ANY DECISION to shut down Columb Barracks in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, would be “foolhardy” and “mind-boggling”, according to Longford-Westmeath Minister of State Willie Penrose.

Emphasising his “long-standing commitment” to Columb Barracks, the Labour Party Minister said: “It’s mind-boggling because it doesn’t make sense, logistically or economically.” The barracks should be enhanced rather than closed, he said, adding that “any savings, putative savings . . . are minimal in the overall context”.

Home to about 200 members of the Defence Forces, the barracks is Ireland’s only artillery barracks and benefits the local economy to the tune of €6 million, according to Mr Penrose.

Concerns are mounting over the future of the barracks following a meeting of high-ranking Army officials at the site on Monday. The fear is that the barracks may shut under the Government’s spending review, with troops being transferred to Custume Barracks in Athlone.

In reply to a query to his press spokesman, Minister for Defence Alan Shatter said: “As of now, no decision has been made by the Government in relation to the future of any particular military installation.”

However, he said, various commissions, reports and studies dating back to the 1990s identified barracks closures as a fundamental requirement towards improving military effectiveness and efficiency.

“In particular, I wish to ensure that all decisions made and resources utilised are focused on maximising the capabilities of the Defence Forces and ensuring their continued operational excellence.

“I am also anxious to ensure, insofar as is possible, that the Government is not compelled by fiscal and budgetary constraints to effect any substantial reduction in the current number of personnel in the Defence Forces.”


http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0921/1224304482327.html

REX
21st September 2011, 15:19
Accomodation is hardly a strategic reason, is it?

It is when, due to previous bk closures, there are no other bks with the ability to accept over 300 troops for the likes of overseas training. This was the very reason that approx 60% of the Accomd blocks were renovated in the last couple of years

Napp
21st September 2011, 15:22
How many batteries and guns are in Columb?

REX
21st September 2011, 15:24
yes but surely the troops / units will just relocate?

Easily said from a country that provides military living in lines for Married as well as single personnell. Over here lads will have to look at the requirement for a second car, an expense best avoided if possible, or it's time to sell up and move, not possible if selling up means you have to pay off a mortgage in serious negative equity

REX
21st September 2011, 15:25
how many batteries and guns are in columb?

opsec

REX
21st September 2011, 15:35
In reply to a query to his press spokesman, Minister for Defence Alan Shatter said: “As of now, no decision has been made by the Government in relation to the future of any particular military installation.”

This is the important part of this statement, it leaves it open for him to say the Army decided

Archimedes
21st September 2011, 15:38
How many batteries and guns are in Columb?

How many Columbs in a battery?

Napp
21st September 2011, 15:40
How many Columbs in a battery?

hiyoooooooooo

Goldie fish
21st September 2011, 15:48
Easily said from a country that provides military living in lines for Married as well as single personnell. Over here lads will have to look at the requirement for a second car, an expense best avoided if possible, or it's time to sell up and move, not possible if selling up means you have to pay off a mortgage in serious negative equity

Longford.
Rockhill.
Lifford.
Monaghan.

All faced the same issue, however, from the outset, it is accepted that as a member of the defence forces you will be posted wherever the CoS sees fit, not where you have your roots.
There are people from Limerick Commuting to Clonmel, and neither barracks has closed yet.
I understand mil transport was provided for those in Longford to reach their new HQ.
Likewise, years before, those in Fermoy, Ballincollig and Kildare were inconvenienced by closures, but they went ahead anyway.

50 km is considered an acceptable distance to reassign anyone within the public sector by the way.

apod
21st September 2011, 16:57
GoC west announced the imminent closure of Columb Bks on Monday.I believe the lads were told it would close before Christmas.
He was in Cavan yesterday.Wait out.:eek:
I believe Clonmel is going to get the nod also.

Bravo20
21st September 2011, 23:23
Also heard Kilkenny, Cavan and Gormanston

The Prisoner
22nd September 2011, 10:29
Too lazy to find an earlier post of mine. A number of months ago this was the intitial plan (a very good source):

East
McKee
Kilbride
Dundalk/Redbarn or Gormo

West
Finner
Athlone
Carnagh

South
Cork
Limerick
Kilworth

DFTC & Glen

Everything else to go. That was based on a 3 Bde structure. It has now moved on to giving serious consideration to a 2 Bde structure.

Cavan - another Gov. Dept has their eye on it. Clue: cheaper than building in N. Co. Dublin.

USAC - again someone has their eye on it.

I asked the question about accommadation for RDF FTT. Answer: not yet considered ie not on the radar.

morpheus
22nd September 2011, 10:57
Gormo always gets mentioned

it wont be closed

one of the very few decent ranges around plus it allows for air to ground and ground to air firing.

the base itself is heavily used for training both recruits ex's and RDFers.

there are "certain" units based there from time to time

used for public order training

IAA use the hangers for aircraft investigations

Kieran Marum
22nd September 2011, 13:59
DAIL adjurnment debate 21/09/2011

Army Barracks
Wednesday, 21 September 2011
________________________________________
Deputy Robert Troy: I thank the Ceann Comhairle for selecting this item for topical debate today. It is the most topical and talked about issue in my constituency since senior Army personnel visited Columb Barracks on Monday and dropped a bombshell with the news that our barracks is to close in early December. I was surprised that my constituency colleague, Deputy James Bannon, yesterday withdrew his parliamentary questions to the Minister for Defence, Deputy Alan Shatter. Might this indicate the barracks is indeed to close in December? Was the Deputy embarrassed by the reply of the Minister?

This is not my first time to raise the issue. I raised it directly with the Minister on 24 May, at which stage I was accused of scaremongering by members of the Government parties. At the time I invited the Minister to visit the Army barracks to see the facilities at first hand and the good work Army personnel are carrying out. That invitation stands, to the Minister of State, Deputy Paul Kehoe, and to the Minister, Deputy Alan Shatter. The previous three Ministers for Defence, the former Deputy, Tony Killeen, and Deputies Willie O’Dea and Brendan Smith, visited the barracks and gave commitments regarding its future.

The people of Mullingar are anxious and worried and want the Government to be upfront and honest with them. Last night Rebecca O’Callaghan started a Facebook campaign to keep Columb Barracks open. Within one hour more than 1,000 people had signed it and today in excess of 2,000 had joined. If the Minister of State looks at the page he will see clearly the level of feelings expressed.

The Army barracks can trace its history back almost 200 years when it was purchased by the British War Department. Today it is the home of the fourth field artillery regiment and also acts as a headquarters of the Reserve Defence Force and the 54th regiment. The driving range is used by members of An Garda Síochána. 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. It acts as a staging post for all our overseas and UN-based operations. More than 200 serving personnel are based in the barracks along with more than 20 highly skilled civilian staff. Currently a large number of personnel from the barracks are representing their country in Lebanon. It is bad to think that when these men and women are doing their work abroad, this Government is threatening to close their home.

These men and women continue to display the fine tradition of overseas peacekeeping work. We are very proud of our Army personnel, from both Columb Barracks, Mullingar and Custume Barracks, Athlone. There are also two active groups in Mullingar which represent retired soldiers and are doing great community work. Many serving members of the Defence Forces are heavily involved within the community. Only recently they organised a sponsored climb of Croagh Patrick for Living Links, in which I took part.

The income generated from pay, pensions and ancillary purchases is worth in the region of €8 million to the local economy. To close this barracks, with the withdrawal of this level of revenue from the local economy, would be devastating to many families and to small businesses and their staff who are fighting a hard battle to stay afloat with no support from this Government. This is not an issue for the EU-IMF as there is no financial gain to be made in closing this barracks, a point well articulated by my constituency colleague and Cabinet member, the Minister of State, Willie Penrose, in The Irish Times today and in local media, the Westmeath Topic and Midlands Radio 3. Army personnel will be paid relocation fees and there will be capital costs to extend further barracks to accommodate additional personnel. We will be unable to sell the barracks so any possible gain would be outweighed.

I know that the Minister of State, Deputy Penrose, will raise this issue at Cabinet as he has always been supportive of the barracks. I hope the Minister of State, Deputy Kehoe, will listen to him and to what the people of Mullingar have to say. I finish with the words of Deputy Penrose, spoken before he became a Minister of State. In May 2009 he stated: “We will not allow the barracks to close in any term, whether short, medium or long”.

Deputy Minister of State at the Department of Defence ( Paul Kehoe: I can confirm to Deputy Troy that as of now no decision has been made by the Government in regard to the future of Columb Barracks, Mullingar, or any other military installation in the country. However various commissions, reports and studies dating back to the 1990s identified barrack closures as a fundamental requirement towards improving military effectiveness and efficiency. Since then there have been a number of consolidation programmes which have seen the number of barracks occupied by the Permanent Defence Force reduced from 34 to 23.

Notwithstanding the progress made to date, the dispersal of Defence Forces personnel over an extended number of locations continues to be a major impediment to essential collective training and to releasing personnel for operational duties. As is the case with all Departments, the Department of Defence has been actively reviewing all areas of expenditure for which it is responsible to ensure the maximum benefit in the public interest from the use of its resources. This is a key element in the context of the comprehensive review of expenditure in which the Government is engaged. My Department has submitted its report as part of that process. This report sets out in clear terms the options available to Government with regard to defence funding. The outcome of the comprehensive review of expenditure will determine the future resource envelope available for defence.

I wish to ensure that all decisions made and resources utilised are focused on maximising the capabilities of the Defence Forces and ensuring their continued operational excellence. I am also anxious to ensure, in so far as is possible, that the Government is not compelled by fiscal and budgetary constraints to effect any substantial reduction in the current number of personnel in the Defence Forces. In the circumstances, I cannot give any specific commitment that there will not be further programmes of barracks consolidation.

Deputy Robert Troy: It is absolute waffle to state that, as of now, the Government cannot give any commitment. Where is the openness, honesty and transparency the Government promised the people? The people of Mullingar have been out of their minds with worry for the past two nights. Senior Army personnel visited this barracks on Monday and told people it would be closing in December. Who is fooling whom? We want and need answers.

The Minister of State noted that his Department has submitted its report as part of the process. Is Columb Barracks, Mullingar, included in the report? The Minister of State must be honest with the people and let them know where they stand. He should not hide behind the phrase “as of now”. We do not want that. We want to know exactly what is happening. People’s livelihoods are at stake here. People who are settled and living in Mullingar do not know where to send their children but must think about relocating and what the future holds for them. Let us be honest. The Minister of State must come up front and tell the truth.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: I thank Deputy Troy. As I outlined in my reply, I sit at the Cabinet table. I can confirm that the Cabinet has not made a decision-----

Deputy Robert Troy: As of now.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: -----on this or any other issue relating to the Defence Forces. It is great that members of senior management have visited Columb Barracks in Mullingar. It is their job to do so. I do not doubt that senior personnel within the Defence Forces visit the barracks on a regular basis because they have a responsibility to do so in other to observe what is happening there. They do not inform those at the barracks on a regular basis that it is going to be closed. Those responsible for making decisions in respect of matters such as this are the Minister for Defence and the Government. The Deputy’s efforts to pre-empt a decision which has been neither discussed nor made by the Cabinet amount to scaremongering.

Deputy Robert Troy: I did not pre-empt anything. I asked the Minister of State to come clean and be honest.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: As is the case with all other Departments, a review of expenditure is taking place in the Department of Defence. This matter has not come before the Cabinet. When a decision is made in respect of this or any other issue relating to the Defence Forces, I have no doubt the Deputy will be made aware of it and that information on why certain choices were made will be provided. I assure him that, as matters stand, a decision has not been made in respect of the closure of any barracks in the country.

Deputy Robert Troy: When will it be made?

Deputy Paul Kehoe: The Deputy will be given plenty of notice prior to a decision being made.

Deputy Robert Troy: The people of Mullingar want to know now.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Attempts should not be made to pre-empt Cabinet decisions. If the Deputy speaks to senior members of his party who served in government, I am sure they will provide him with information on what happens at Cabinet and on how decisions are made.

hptmurphy
22nd September 2011, 14:08
ast
McKee
Kilbride
Dundalk/Redbarn or Gormo

West
Finner
Athlone
Carnagh

South
Cork
Limerick
Kilworth

DFTC & Glen



Very Intertesting list and makes a lot of sense.

Fly in the ointment being I don't see both Kilkenny and Clonmel going.

Either or with Kilkenny having the better chance of survival as they have a very prominent minister based locally, Phil Hogan...that certainly makes the difference,

Other point about Kilkenny apart from the Hospital there is nothing else there job wise. Its a service industry based town/city.The economic reprocussion would be huge and will be a major factor in the decision

trellheim
22nd September 2011, 14:39
This probably means the approved CSR defence bit went up for discussion.

The Prisoner
22nd September 2011, 14:41
I was in Monaghan town during the summer and according to the locals there is not much by way of industry in the county. That didn't stop Monaghan being closed. So, Kilkenny and Clonmel could well go the same way.

As regards Gormo, it might make more sense to keep it, given the open range, the runway and plenty of acres, and close Dundalk and Redbarn. However, what would the capital outlay be to bring Gormo up to spec, ie to accommadate a full Bn? Of course if the army was being reduced to 2 Bdes or drop 3 Bn's, 1 from each Bde, then this may not be a big issue.

RoyalGreenJacket
22nd September 2011, 17:30
how can senior Army officers visit a barracks and tell it's troops it is closing if this, as it stands, is not the case?

how can they do this without a decision yet being made in government?

that takes 'rumour control' in the Army to new extremes.

Bravo20
22nd September 2011, 20:29
Gormo always gets mentioned

it wont be closed

one of the very few decent ranges around plus it allows for air to ground and ground to air firing.

the base itself is heavily used for training both recruits ex's and RDFers.

there are "certain" units based there from time to time

used for public order training

IAA use the hangers for aircraft investigations

You don't need the camp to keep the range open

DeV
22nd September 2011, 22:04
Ah but you do need somewhere for the gunline, guaranteed access to the gunline, a safety distance, room for the NDA etc etc

RoyalGreenJacket
22nd September 2011, 22:23
Ah but you do need somewhere for the gunline, guaranteed access to the gunline, a safety distance, room for the NDA etc etc

we have a similar facility in Castlemartin Ranges in Wales.

there are no soldiers based there anymore but we still conduct live tank / artillery and air to ground firing there.

you can easily close the barracks whilst maintaining the facilities you mentioned, so i'm with Bravo20 on this.

Flamingo
22nd September 2011, 22:30
Range maintenance in Gormanston is OPW, isn't it?

trellheim
23rd September 2011, 00:11
A wise man would go back to the recent review of Military Lands and say that the recent review concluded that these places all needed to be kept. So now its a massive change of mind. CSR details haven't been published yet....

apod
23rd September 2011, 15:22
Just a point on Gormo and its use.AFAIK all Air to ground firing is moving to the Glen.Unsure as yet as to ground to air.

Bam Bam
23rd September 2011, 15:56
Could ground to air not be done near to finner camp?

Goldie fish
23rd September 2011, 16:07
Could ground to air not be done near to finner camp?

AC are not keen on having long transit times with the drogue I understand.
Also, the cessna can't go too far from Baldonnel, in case the pilot loses sight of home....;)

DeV
23rd September 2011, 17:35
Just a point on Gormo and its use.AFAIK all Air to ground firing is moving to the Glen.Unsure as yet as to ground to air.

More realistic I suppose


Could ground to air not be done near to finner camp?


AC are not keen on having long transit times with the drogue I understand.
Also, the cessna can't go too far from Baldonnel, in case the pilot loses sight of home....;)

The drogue would effect fuel consumption I'd say.... also if it needs to be replaced Gormo is much closer to Baldonnel.

When firing is in progress there is also a maritime exclusion zone so that could effect Killybegs (not sure but it could).

It also could potentially effect Silgo airport?

Also there is currently no danger area there:
http://www.ihpa.ie/index.php/understanding-airspace/62
http://www.ihpa.ie/images/stories/ihpa/flight_safety/airspace/cork_and_shannon_airspace.jpg



http://www.defence.ie/website.nsf/document+id/ACFBAD10807A1E1F802573F300519D99
http://www.defence.ie/website.nsf/document+id/AB9B1A90EA0945818025711F00409BB9

balkanhawk
23rd September 2011, 18:39
AC are not keen on having long transit times with the drogue I understand.
Also, the cessna can't go too far from Baldonnel, in case the pilot loses sight of home....;)

im pretty sure a cessna can land in sligo or donegal airports for fuel. If anything it would probably be quicker than flying from baldonnel to gormanston.

Truck Driver
24th September 2011, 20:30
Too lazy to find an earlier post of mine. A number of months ago this was the intitial plan (a very good source):

East
McKee
Kilbride
Dundalk/Redbarn or Gormo

West
Finner
Athlone
Carnagh

South
Cork
Limerick
Kilworth

DFTC & Glen

Hmm, coincidental that €1m was spent on building a new dining hall facility in Kilbride Mil Camp ?

Cryos
26th September 2011, 15:26
I was in Monaghan town during the summer and according to the locals there is not much by way of industry in the county. That didn't stop Monaghan being closed. So, Kilkenny and Clonmel could well go the same way.


Haulage, Agri and Service drive monaghan IMHO, in terms of the barracks i pass it most days; a Shadow of its former self; There is talk locally of it being opened for local government use [Talk was of Medical or Ambulance Zone]; RDF have a parish hall setup in Monaghan town, training is to a "standard".

To put in context, in my civi occupation drive 120 km a day from Monaghan to dublin in about an hour and a bit; As stated before a move of 50km isn't uncommon; in April i was moved 30km as apart of a consolidation. I also drive every Tuesday to CBB without issue or second thoughts.

The Prisoner
27th September 2011, 10:20
Heard on "Morning Ireland" that Columb Bks is on the agenda for the Cabinet meeting this morning. Maybe some news by lunchtime.

Kieran Marum
27th September 2011, 14:13
Questions tabled for The Dail Tuesday 27th September 2011.


Chun an Aire Cosanta : To the Minister for Defence.

Include the following.......


*420. To ask the Minister for Defence his plans for Columb Barracks, Mullingar,
County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. — Robert Troy.
[25757/11]
...........

Kieran Marum
29th September 2011, 15:17
DAIL Tuesday 27th September 2011

420. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Defence his plans for Columb Barracks, Mullingar, County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25757/11]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): As of now no decision has been made in relation to the future of any particular military installation. However various commissions, reports and studies back to the 1990s identified barrack closure as a fundamental requirement towards improving military effectiveness and efficiency. Since then there has been a number of consolidation programmes which has seen the number of barracks occupied by the Permanent Defence Force reduced from 34 to 23 today. The dispersal of Defence Forces personnel over an extended number of locations continues to be a major impediment to essential collective training and to releasing personnel for operational duties.

I have made it clear that I cannot give a commitment that there will not be further programmes of barrack consolidation.

Goldie fish
3rd October 2011, 12:28
Dáil Éireann - Private Members Business (Fianna Fáil) 4-5 October 2011



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“That Dáil Éireann:

— recognises that, through supporting local businesses and services, army barracks are an integral part of the local economy in the towns they are based;

— affirms and supports the crucial role that soldiers and their families play in the fabric of the local communities where they are stationed;

— further recognises that towns throughout the country are under immense pressure due to the current economic climate and need to be supported;

— acknowledges the consolidation of army barracks over the past number of years due to the changed security situation in Northern Ireland and the consequent reinvestment of funds to fully modernise the Defence Forces;

— further acknowledges investment into the infrastructure of army barracks across Ireland over the past number of years;

— confirms that as a result of previous consolidation and investment no further army barrack closures are necessary;

— notes with deep concern reports of the imminent closure of a number of barracks across Ireland such as the Dún Uí Néill Barracks, Cavan, Columb Barracks, Mullingar, Kickham Barracks, Clonmel, Stephens Barracks, Kilkenny and the Military Barracks, Castlebar;

— condemns the Minister for Defence’s refusal to rule out the closure of any army barracks throughout the country, regardless of their integral role in the local area;

— opposes the closure of Dún Uí Néill Barracks, Cavan, Columb Barracks, Mullingar, Kickham Barracks, Clonmel, Stephens Barracks, Kilkenny, the Military Barracks, Castlebar, and any further army barracks across the country;

— opposes the gradual closure of further army barracks through a reduction of personnel numbers stationed in them; and

— calls on the Government to develop a rational strategy to maximise the effectiveness of the Defence Forces that encompasses their role in the towns they are based.” — Dara Calleary, John Browne, Niall Collins, Barry Cowen, Timmy Dooley, Seán Fleming, Billy Kelleher, Seamus Kirk, Michael P. Kitt, Micheál Martin, Charlie McConalogue, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Michael Moynihan, Éamon Ó Cuív, Willie O'Dea, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Brendan Smith, Robert Troy.

A nasty bit of work by FF who had no problem closing barracks in their time. I look forward to the amendment that will be proposed by the government.

broadsword
3rd October 2011, 15:11
i read that they will only save €300k.
when you think about it they have to pay the troops no matter where they are so its not really a saving as the local town looses an indutry

Victor
3rd October 2011, 18:41
i read that they will only save €300k.
when you think about it they have to pay the troops no matter where they are so its not really a saving as the local town looses an indutryBut it removes the number of people on duties, freeing them up for other activities.

ollie
3rd October 2011, 20:19
Dáil Éireann - Private Members Business (Fianna Fáil) 4-5 October 2011



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“That Dáil Éireann:

— recognises that, through supporting local businesses and services, army barracks are an integral part of the local economy in the towns they are based;

— affirms and supports the crucial role that soldiers and their families play in the fabric of the local communities where they are stationed;

— further recognises that towns throughout the country are under immense pressure due to the current economic climate and need to be supported;

— acknowledges the consolidation of army barracks over the past number of years due to the changed security situation in Northern Ireland and the consequent reinvestment of funds to fully modernise the Defence Forces;

— further acknowledges investment into the infrastructure of army barracks across Ireland over the past number of years;

— confirms that as a result of previous consolidation and investment no further army barrack closures are necessary;

— notes with deep concern reports of the imminent closure of a number of barracks across Ireland such as the Dún Uí Néill Barracks, Cavan, Columb Barracks, Mullingar, Kickham Barracks, Clonmel, Stephens Barracks, Kilkenny and the Military Barracks, Castlebar;

— condemns the Minister for Defence’s refusal to rule out the closure of any army barracks throughout the country, regardless of their integral role in the local area;

— opposes the closure of Dún Uí Néill Barracks, Cavan, Columb Barracks, Mullingar, Kickham Barracks, Clonmel, Stephens Barracks, Kilkenny, the Military Barracks, Castlebar, and any further army barracks across the country;

— opposes the gradual closure of further army barracks through a reduction of personnel numbers stationed in them; and

— calls on the Government to develop a rational strategy to maximise the effectiveness of the Defence Forces that encompasses their role in the towns they are based.” — Dara Calleary, John Browne, Niall Collins, Barry Cowen, Timmy Dooley, Seán Fleming, Billy Kelleher, Seamus Kirk, Michael P. Kitt, Micheál Martin, Charlie McConalogue, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Michael Moynihan, Éamon Ó Cuív, Willie O'Dea, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Brendan Smith, Robert Troy.

A nasty bit of work by FF who had no problem closing barracks in their time. I look forward to the amendment that will be proposed by the government.

FF have discovered all forms of aversions to policies they prev supported. Word in Kilkenny is that their Bks is safe but Clonmel is going but like all army rumours whho knows ??? The FF td for Kk is claiming any credit for saving the barracks already :-D

Truck Driver
6th October 2011, 03:11
Noticed this in the "News" section...

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/1005/1224305257582.html

Couple of points:


Without identifying any individual barracks, he said: “It is self-evident that concentrating personnel in fewer locations provides the potential to protect essential collective training and reduce unnecessary overheads in terms of barrack management, administration, maintenance and security. It also affords me the possibility of maintaining the Defence Forces at their current level of approximately 9,500,” the strength the Defence Forces were at in 1970

Do I detect a case here of "lads, either we close posts, or jobs will be going" ?

This trend also seems to be repeated at the end of the article:


“Let me be quite clear. Unless we prioritise the resources available to the Defence Forces into the appropriate areas, we will not be able to send troops overseas in the future because they will not have the appropriate equipment and training.”


Mr Calleary had criticised the Minister’s failure to make a decision that had left 500 Army families in limbo. He said there was nothing inconsistent about the party’s approach to the closure of barracks. When in government, Fianna Fáil closed barracks “because of the transformed security situation on this island as a result of the peace process”, and the €85 million from the sale of barracks was invested back to make the Defence Forces one of the most modern in Europe

I think it is a bit rich of Mr Calleary to say this. IMO, it was a case of luck that the peace process
came about (and held), to enable FF to close posts to begin with, not so much a case of closing them
to reinvest in the Defence Forces


Mr Calleary warned that the Government would have to pay extra travelling allowances, invest in other barracks to accommodate them and still have a significant security and maintenance bill for the barracks that were closed

I don't disagree with the latter two points, Clancy and Magee Bks being cases in point, as
they were not immediately developed after closure, due to differeing reasons, and yes, obviously
enough, the troops from such posts would have to be relocated, but can someone explain to me why
travelling allowances would have to be paid ? Serious question, no duff. I am curious
where this statement came out of

Surely, in the first instance, a member of the PDF can be deployed anywhere in the State,
(correct me if I am wrong on this one) and in civvy street, employees frequently travel long
distances to work from their homes ? Relocated members of 28 Inf Bn are now in this
position, with the closures of Rockhill and Lifford, and also probably former personnel
in Monaghan also...

I also note that some TD (presuming Longford-Westmeath) has visited troops from 4 FAR
in the Leb, and is getting a pasting in various quarters online...

DeV
6th October 2011, 09:56
Noticed this in the "News" section...

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/1005/1224305257582.html

Couple of points:

Do I detect a case here of "lads, either we close posts, or jobs will be going" ?


I think it is a bit rich of Mr Calleary to say this. IMO, it was a case of luck that the peace process
came about (and held), to enable FF to close posts to begin with, not so much a case of closing them
to reinvest in the Defence Forces

Surely, in the first instance, a member of the PDF can be deployed anywhere in the State,
(correct me if I am wrong on this one) and in civvy street, employees frequently travel long
distances to work from their homes ? Relocated members of 28 Inf Bn are now in this
position, with the closures of Rockhill and Lifford, and also probably former personnel
in Monaghan also...


Put it this way, F Coy in Cavan is told to conduct a coy level exercise, it can't because it will be a couple of sections down due to having to do duties, admin, logs etc.

The primary reasons for the closing of barracks were:
- prevented collective training (as in coy/bn/bde level exercises)
- was costly to run (in personnel terms)
- to allow investment in a more rapidly deployable DF (removing the need for as many posts near the border)

I'm not sure if the money from sales is still ringfenced for investment in the DF but either way, it means that more State money is available to fund personnel and equipment.... that isn't a bad thing!

Say the DF needs € 2 million for MOWAGs, the Government says either make cuts or we put taxes up.

In some cases, relocation means loss of allowances, eg they may need 3 less cooks or storemen.

madmark
6th October 2011, 11:09
Decision on closing barracks put off until after presidential election

THE Government is to postpone the planned closure of army barracks until after the presidential election to spare a junior minister's blushes.

Labour Junior Minister Willie Penrose had proclaimed that closing the army barracks in Mullingar would be "crass stupidity and economic lunacy".

The Irish Independent understands the Government has now decided to postpone any decision on the future of the barracks until after the election on October 27.

A government spokesman has confirmed that the decision on closures is part of the comprehensive spending review being carried out ahead of December's Budget.

It is widely expected in military circles that a number of barracks, including Mullingar, will be closed as part of the cutbacks in the Budget.

Mr Penrose said yesterday that he was unaware of any postponement of the decision on the future of the barracks.

"We'll fight the thing and argue it. It's just a matter of trying to argue the toss. There'll obviously be counter-arguments," he said.

Mr Penrose was attending meetings in Cork yesterday as Junior Housing Minister. He said he would not be present for a vote on a private members' motion brought by Fianna Fail calling on the Government to guarantee the future of all army barracks.

But he backed the Government's counter-motion to take "further difficult and unpopular decisions to restore the public finances".

A protest march is being organised in Mullingar on Saturday to save the barracks -- which houses 200 army personnel and 20 civilian staff. Their wages are worth an estimated €8m to the local economy.

Local Labour town councillor Patrick Collins said it was a big issue because Mullingar was a very strong military town.

"There are families in every street and housing estate that have some connection with the military either directly or indirectly," he said.

In the Dail this week, Justice Minister Alan Shatter refused to give any assurance that the 200-year-old barracks would be spared.

"The Exchequer is under extreme pressure and no amount of bluff and bluster will bridge the yawning gap between the Government's income and current expenditure," he said.

- Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

Irish Independent

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/decision-on-closing-barracks-put-off-until-after-presidential-election-2897915.html

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 11:57
Thats a very twisted version of what the minister said in the dail. Well done to the rag that is the indo for maintaining their pointlessly low journalism standards.

trellheim
6th October 2011, 11:59
FF did close barracks. However the White Paper 2000-2010 clearly identified a reduction in the need. Then just recently they closed Lifford and Monaghan. Now FG/Lab seem hellbent on closing more barracks before the revised Green or White papers.

DeV
6th October 2011, 12:14
PWC said that the barracks had to close as there was no need for that many. That was where the first White Paper came up with the plan.

Centralisation of units will not only provide VFM but will make the DF a lot more efficient. Unless there are other strategic reasons for it (eg Gormo with rifle, pistol, AD and air-to-ground ranges), there should be no barracks open that doesn't house a major unit (ie battalion sized).

People may have to move house/commutte longer distances but I'm sure not everyone stationed in, for example, Mullingar lives immediately outside the barracks. I'm sure some would live in the direction of Athlone (of course others would live in the Dublin direction). Then there will be SLI personnel. If they don't live in Mullingar they may not be spending there money there!

The closing of barracks was funded new vehicles and helicopters that can deploy troops quickly if required.

Left100
6th October 2011, 13:51
The solution is to close Athlone and move everyone to Mullingar, everyone knows Athlone is a kip!

morpheus
6th October 2011, 14:27
agreed, in fact gormo is a class facility to have

they should upgrade accomodation etc and get a Bn in there.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 14:45
Deputy Dara Calleary: I move:


That Dáil Éireann:


— recognises that, through supporting local businesses and services, Army barracks are an integral part of the local economy in the towns in which they are based;


— affirms and supports the crucial role that soldiers and their families play in the fabric of the local communities where they are stationed;


— further recognises that towns throughout the country are under immense pressure due to the current economic climate and need to be supported;


— acknowledges the consolidation of Army barracks in recent years due to the changed security situation in Northern Ireland and the consequent reinvestment of funds to fully modernise the Defence Forces;


— further acknowledges investment into the infrastructure of Army barracks across Ireland in recent years;


— confirms that as a result of previous consolidation and investment no further Army barrack closures are necessary;


— notes with deep concern reports of the imminent closure of a number of barracks across Ireland such as the Dún Uí Néill Barracks, Cavan, Columb Barracks, Mullingar, Kickham Barracks, Clonmel, Stephens Barracks, Kilkenny and the Military Barracks, Castlebar;


— condemns the Minister for Defence’s refusal to rule out the closure of any Army barracks throughout the country, regardless of its integral role in the local area;


— opposes the closure of Dún Uí Néill Barracks, Cavan, Columb Barracks, Mullingar, Kickham Barracks, Clonmel, Stephens Barracks, Kilkenny, the Military Barracks, Castlebar, and any further Army barracks across the country;


— opposes the gradual closure of further Army barracks through a reduction of personnel numbers stationed in them; and


— calls on the Government to develop a rational strategy to maximise the effectiveness of the Defence Forces that encompasses their role in the towns in which they are based.

With the agreement of the House I will share time with Deputies Ó Cuív and Brendan Smith. I, the Minister and our respective parties agree that this country and the Members of the Oireachtas owe a great debt of gratitude to the members of the Irish Defence Forces for their commitment to their country and to their jobs. Over the years they have faced down many threats internally within the State and externally across the world in pursuit of peace and security for the State. They continue to serve at home and abroad fearlessly. The Minister will visit the troops next week along with President McAleese. We wish the Minister well for that trip. The troops have brought and continue to bring great distinction to our country.

What we disagree on is the future organisation of those fine men and women and the impact potential changes may have on communities across the island. This is why we are here tonight. Along with my colleagues Deputies Brendan Smith and Robert Troy, Senator Diarmuid Wilson and Councillor Siobhán Ambrose - then mayor of Clonmel - I have sought since April information on proposed barracks closures. However, the standard reply from the Minister on every occasion here and in the other House is that no decision has been made. Yet, within the Army community and its higher levels, and within local communities like Cavan, Clonmel and Mullingar, there is a widely held belief that the barracks closure is imminent.

This belief is based on internal briefings from within the Army. It is based on comments by several Government Deputies, including comments such as “The gloves are off” and “I have no cause for optimism despite putting up a very strong case for the future of the barracks”. There was also a lengthy release from one Deputy outlining the options for Army members who are moved and indicating that while the physical barracks may close, it will be made available to community groups immediately on closure. So the words in the Government amendment that “condemns mischievous attempts to exaggerate the impact of these necessary decisions and create unnecessary fears among local communities” are relevant to the Government benches as much as any. This motion is about the 500 families that are being left in limbo by this lack of decision. This is why we have chosen to put this motion down this evening and offer the Government the chance to bring clarity once and for all.

The Government amendment congratulates the Government on taking “resolute action in facing the economic crisis” and yet it states further on that decisions relating to Estimates and the troika have been taken by the previous Government. It is those Estimates that the Minister is congratulating himself for implementing. That is indicative of the approach of the Government; on the one hand it blames us for everything from the economy to the rain but on the other it is happy to run around the world taking international plaudits. The Department of Defence is no different.

In Government we closed Army barracks and we did so in the face of strenuous and hostile opposition from the parties in Government. We are not hiding from this and it is mentioned in our motion. There is nothing “inconsistent” about the approach we are taking. We closed Army barracks because of the transformed security position on this island as a result of the peace process, a process in which every Member of these Houses has played a role. That process transformed not just the economic prospects of our island but its social chances. I often wonder if people forget the sacrifices made to get us to where we are today.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 14:46
When we closed those barracks we ensured that €85 million of investment from the sale of those closed barracks was put back into the Army, ensuring that it is one of the most modern in Europe. I pay tribute to successive Ministers responsible for defence, including former Deputy Michael Smith, Deputy Willie O’Dea, former Deputy Tony Killeen and Deputy Ó Cuív. They ensured the policy of investment would continue, and the fruits are evident in barracks around the country, and particularly in the quality of the equipment with which our armed services serve across the world as we speak.

As a result of that work and commitment which went into the barracks programme, we know that we cannot afford, as a nation, to close any more barracks. There are 18 barracks in operation, which is optimal for a force of 10,000 or so. That number reflects a suitable geographical dispersal highlighting different specialties within the Army. Those specialties are instanced in Mullingar, which is the only artillery barracks left in the country; in Clonmel, which is a vital base for the Reserve Defence Force; and Cavan, which has a state of the art purpose-built barracks, one of the finest of its kind in Europe. It was only opened in 1990, and it is the only new barracks to be commissioned since the foundation of the State.

These three barracks are collectively home to just over 500 soldiers and their families and are worth about €15 million per annum to the three local economies. How will the withdrawal of that spend from these three economies impact on the “public finances” about which the Government proclaims to be so worried in the amendment? The amendment speaks of “unnecessary” fears but there is nothing unnecessary about the fear in these communities this evening. They are afraid because they are hearing from Army management that these barracks are to be closed while getting uncomfortable vibes from the Government Deputies that the barracks are to be closed. Nobody doubts that the Deputies opposite are trying but their efforts are falling on deaf ears. On every occasion in this and the other House, where we have offered the Minister the opportunity to clarify the issue he has not done so. That is why people are afraid this evening. These fears are genuine and should not be dismissed as otherwise.

Tonight is the Minister’s chance to detail in the House his exact plans. I know from his amendment and his form in these occasions that he will not deal with the fears. We will have the usual broken record of blaming this party for everything from the collapse of the economy to stealing the Minister’s sweets when he was a child. I would like him to deal with the following issues.

Where will the savings be made by closing these barracks? He should answer that question in the following context. If we close these barracks he will not be laying off any soldiers and will pay extra travelling allowances to approximately 600 people for up to nine months. He will have to make substantial capital investments in other barracks to accommodate those who are dislocated and discommoded. He will continue to have a very substantial security and maintenance bill for the closed sites. The Minister will be unable to realise any capital from the sale of a barracks or a closed barracks in the current property market and will be unable to do so for some time. Even if he continues the trend of transferring premises to other organisations, as is happening in County Monaghan as part of a deal and project facilitated by our former colleague, former Deputy Margaret Conlon, he will not realise any value for the Department of Defence in the way we realised €85 million to reinvest in the Army. The gain to the Army and the local spend will not be equivalent to what has been taken out of those economies.

How will the defence priorities of the State be served by the closing of barracks? The Minister should await publication of the new White Paper on Defence, on which he is working, before proceeding with further closures. Closing Dún Uí Néill in Cavan will leave only two barracks on the Border. If we need any reminder that we still need maximum security on the Border, the seizures of illicit fuel and the continuing activity of dissident republicans in recent days are that sharp reminder. Closing Columb Barracks in Mullingar will leave us without the last artillery barracks and an important UNIFIL staging post. The closure of Kickham Barracks in Clonmel will be a serious setback to the operations and organisation of the Reserve Defence Force. Proceeding to undermine three of these functions will undermine the integrity of the preparation of the White Paper on Defence.

There is a danger that in debating the physical existence of a barracks and its value to a local economy we will forget the most important element, the people involved. Hundreds of Army personnel do not know where they will be stationed or working in possibly six weeks. They do not know how their working and commuting day will look. They are being told by Government Deputies that they will be given travelling allowances and, depending on the part of the county in which they live, that they might be able to go to Dublin. Some of them are tonight serving with the United Nations in Lebanon and do not know to which barracks they will be returning. Will the Minister be able to tell them next week when he will be over there with them? Their families do not know where their children will be in school this time next year. If they are in separate employment in the towns in which they currently live, they do not know if they will be able to maintain that employment.

As for the communities involved, if 500 jobs in three centres were under threat tonight, there would be topical issue debates on the issue proposed by Members on all sides of the House and Adjournment debates in the Seanad calling for IDA and various other task forces to assist. We can bring clarity to the matter and give assurances to the communities involved. On the basis that there will be no saving, unless the Minister can state otherwise, and in view of the importance of the Army to local communities, as is recognised on all sides of the House, it is of paramount importance that the Minister give some details on the matter.

I started by paying tribute to the Defence Forces. This is not the way to treat them, their families and communities. The Minister is effectively the commander in chief of the Defence Forces. This is not a matter that can be passed off as an operational issue for the military. The Minister retains the power to clarify the position. I urge him to take that chance.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 14:47
Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Tááthas orm deis a bheith agam labhairt ar an rún seo. San achar gairid go raibh mise mar Aire Cosanta, cuireadh ar mo shúile dom, ní ag an Arm féin ná ag an Roinn ach ag daoine atá san Arm, go raibh i gceist laghdú mór millteanach a dhéanamh ar líon na saighdiúrí atá lonnaithe i nDun Uí Mhaolíosa i nGaillimh. Tá an Chéad Chath lonnaithe ansin agus b’iad Cumann na nGael a chuir an Chéad Chath ar bun. Go bhfios domsa bhí baint ag Eoin Mac Néill le bunú an Chéad Chath. Bhí scéal ag dul thart go raibh laghdú mór le déanamh ar an gCéad Chath agus go bhfágfaí Arm na hÉireann gan cathlán lán ghaelach. Ag an am, chuir mé go mór in aghaidh sin. Thug mé treoir don Arm, le tacaíocht iomlán an Rialtais, nach ndéanfaí aon laghdú suntasach ar an gCéad Chath, atá lonnaithe ar an Rinn Mhór i nGaillimh, an bheairic is giorra do Ghaeltacht ar bith sa tír.

Tógadh an cinneadh sin agus cuireadh in iúl é don Aire. Ina dhiaidh sin, ar 28 Meitheamh 2011, chuir mé ceist ar an Aire Cosanta, an Teachta Alan Shatter, an raibh an cinneadh sin fós ag seasamh. Dúirt an t-Aire nach raibh, go raibh sé tar éis tarraingt siar as cinneadh an Rialtais, nár sheas cinneadh an Rialtais níos mó go ndéanfaí cosaint ar an gCéad Chathlán Ghaelach san Arm.

Ba mhaith liom a fháil amach ón Aire anocht céard atá i gceist aige a dhéanamh. An bhfuil i gceist aige scrios a dhéanamh ar an gCéad Chathlann Ghaelach agus an bhfuil i gceist aige athrú bunúsach a dhéanamh ar an stádas a bhaineann leis an mbeairic ar an Rinn Mhór i nGaillimh?

Má tharlaíonn sé sin deir sé go leor faoi luachanna an Rialtais agus faoin dearcadh atá aige faoin Arm Éireannach. Nach gceapann an Rialtas go mb’fhiú go mbunófaí, ar a laghad, cathlán amháin a bhéadh bunaithe ar maithe le deis a thabhairt do shaighdiúiríón nGaeltacht agus do dhaoine eile a bhfuil Gaeilge acu a bheith ina saighdiúiríÉireannacha agus an teanga Gaeilge a úsáid gach uile lá?

I support the motion brought forward by my colleague, Deputy Calleary. I am very concerned about the rumours circulating. It appears to have become a habit of the Government to fly plenty of kites at the same time. Now that this kite has been flown, we hope the Government will listen to the very strong pleas not only from us but also from Government colleagues on the issue of barracks closures. We can agree that the Minister of State, Deputy Willie Penrose, has put the matter very well in the various statements he has issued. He has made it absolutely clear that he believes it would be wrong to close the barracks in Mullingar. He said the closure of Columb Barracks would be “crass stupidity” and “economic lunacy”. He also said: “I have no intention of supporting stupid decisions.” I am sure the Minister would hate to see a Minister of State go overboard and that he will listen carefully to what he has to say about barracks closures. The Minister of State said: “I cannot believe that a sovereign government would ever contemplate closing such a major and integral part of the Defence Forces’ facilities.” He also pointed out, in support of what Deputy Calleary said, that, “From an economic perspective it is foolhardy to contemplate closing Columb Barracks. Apart from being unable to dispose of it in the current climate, all personnel would have to be paid disturbance money. No money will be saved, therefore.” That is what he said in 2009 and I am sure the Minister will listen carefully to his colleague who sits at the Cabinet table and realise that he was right in his statements about this barracks and that no money would be saved.

There is no comparison between the closure of barracks now and what happened under previous Governments when the considerable amount of money received from the sale of barracks was used to re-arm the Army and provide it with badly needed equipment and better conditions. There comes a point when one has done enough closing and we believe that point has been reached. The Minister believed that point had been reached when he was in opposition also. We believe the number of barracks is at the optimum level. It gives a geographic spread throughout the country which is convenient for both the Reserve Defence Force and the deployment of the Army, if necessary, be it for a weather-related or other emergency. Its services are available.
It is time the Minister told us the truth and outlined exactly what the Government will do on this issue. It is important to remember that he is in absolute control and that in his role as Minister for Defence, he cannot hide behind the argument that operational matters are beyond his control, because absolute responsibility rests with him. The day-to-day command of the Defence Forces rests with the Minister for Defence. I have no doubt the Minister, no more than I when I came into the Department, was briefed that there is no equivalence between being Minister for Justice and Equality and Minister for Defence and, therefore, this is his direct responsibility and he will be answerable to this House for the decisions he and the Government may take.

Tá go leor le plé againn agus le hoibriú amach. Rud amháin atá ag teastáil ná Fórsaí Cosanta atá scaipthe ar fud na tíre, atá ag freastal ar an bpobal agus atá mar chuid den phobal. Níl aon amhras faoi ach gur fhulaing cuid des na bailte atá i gceist anseo go leor de bharr an ghéarchéim eacnamaíochta. Má dúnfar na beairicí ar fud na tíre, mar shampla an bheairic i gCluain Meala, a bhfuil caint ar iad a laghdú go mór, níl aon amhras faoi ach go ndéanfaidh sé an-dochar do eacnamaíocht na mbailtí sin, bailte nach bhfuil ag tarraingt tionscail nua isteach iontu i láthair na huaire.

Céard a bhéas againn dá bharr? Glacaim leis nach bhfuil i gceist ag an Rialtas aon laghdú mór a dhéanamh ar líon na saighdiúirí san Arm. Mar sin, níl aon sábháilt le déanamh ar an mbealach sin. Níl mórán costais ag baint - €17 milliún - le ríocht na mbeairicí i rith na bliana. Mar sin, níl aon sábháilt ansin. Cá bhfuil an sábhailt nó an buntáiste? Beidh costas ag baint leis. Breathnaigh an scrios a déanfar ar na bailtíéagsúla sa gCabhán, i gCluain Meala, ar an Muileann Cearr agus ins na bailtíéagsúla ar fud na tíre más rud é go ndúnfar na bearicí seo. Breathnaigh an scrios a déanfar ar theaghlaigh a mbeidh orthu dul agus cónaí in áiteacha eile. Mar mhalairt air sin beidh ar na saighdiúirí go leor taistil a dhéanamh. Cén tairbhe a bhéas ann? An bhfuil aon daonnacht ag baint leis na cinnithe atá an Rialtas ag dul a dhéanamh? An dtógann an Rialtas san áireamh na ceisteanna sin, na hathraithe scoileanna a bhéadh i gceist do ghasúir agus an dochar a dhéanfadh sé sin?

Bhí gá le hathraithe san Arm, mar laghdaigh an t-Arm ó 18,000 duine síos go thart ar 10,000 duine. Anois, tá daoine ag éirí as an Arm go luath, ní hé go bhfuil siad á gcur amach as. Ag tógáil sin san áireamh, cén mhaith nó cén buntáiste a bhéas ann mááthraítear daoine óáit go háit? Tá mé cinnte go gcuirfear argóintí breátha ar aghaidh go mba cheart comhdhlúthú a dhéanamh agus go bhfuil daoine ann a chreideann go mba cheart go mbéadh an t-Arm i mbunáit nó dhó ar fud na tíre. Creidim féin nach mbéadh sé sin go maith, go mbainfeadh sé an ceangal a bhí ann ariamh le pobail áirid agus an t-Arm agus go gcuirfeadh séó mhaith é. Feicimid ar fad an chaoi go dtéann daoine isteach san Arm sa cheantar ar as iad. Daoine ó Mhuigheo agus Gaillimh atá ins na beairicí sa taobh sin tíre. Daoine ó lár tíre atá lonnaithe in Áth Luain. Daoine ó lár tíre thoir atá lonnaithe ar an Muileann Cearr. Tá baint ag teaghlaigh, ag dul i bhfad siar, leis an Arm. Tá sean-aithreacha, aithreacha, máithreacha agus iníonacha istigh san Arm anois, agus ceangal idir na pobail agus an t-Arm. Is rud sláintiúil é sin. Le ró-fhada níor mhothaigh go leor den phobal go raibh aon cheangal acu leis an Arm a bhí i láthair sa tír. Nuair a fuair muid ár saoirse rud amháin ar éirigh linn a dhéanamh ná ceangal breá a bhunú idir ghnáth phobail na tíre agus an t-Arm. Más rud é go mbainfear an t-Arm amach as na pobail agus larnú a dhéanamh air i gcupla bunáit ar fud na tíre - is cuma cén chomhairle a gcuirfear ar an Rialtas - is é an toradh a bhéas air sin ná go mbrisfear an ceangal dlúth atá idir na pobail agus an t-Arm mar atá sé leagtha amach i láthair na huaire. Ocht mbunáit déag atá ag an Arm i láthair na huaire. Úsáideann Cúltaca an Airm cuid des na bunáiteanna sin. Níl údar ar bith nach bhfágfaí na beairicí mar atá siad agus nach bhfágfaí na saighdiúirí mar atá siad ins na beairicí ar fud na tíre.

Ta súil agam gur tháinig an t-Aire isteach sa Dáil anocht, ní le dul ag súgradh leis an bhfón ach chun eisteacht linn. Tá súil agam go bhfuil sé ag éisteacht linn, go bhfuil sé ag tógáil dáiríre an méid atá le rá againn agus, le cúnamh Dé, nach raibh anseo ach scéal scéil. Más fíor é sin agus más rud é go bhfágann an t-Aire na beairicí ar fad ar oscailt ní bheidh éinne níos sásta ná mé féin. Muna ndéanann sé athrú nó laghdú suntasach ar líon na saighdiúirí ins na beairicíéagsúla ní bheidh éinne níos sásta ná mé féin.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 14:47
Tá sé faoin Aire anois déanamh cinnte, is cuma cén moladh a cuirfear faoina bhráid, go mbreathnóidh sé do leas na tíre, leas an phobail agus leas na bpobal ina bhfuil na beairicí suite. Tá súil agam nach nglacfaidh sé díreach le plean a cuirfear ós a chomhair agus nach ndéarfaidh sé go gcaithfidh sé glacadh leis an bplean os rud é gur cuireadh faoina bhráid é. Is é an t-Aire, ag deireadh an lae. Is é atá i gceannas agus freagrach. Tá daoine ann le comhairle a chur air agus le moltaí a chur faoina bhráid. Tá cuid acu sa Stát Seirbhís agus cuid eile san Arm, ach níl an fhreagracht orthu na cinní a dhéanamh. Is faoin Aire agus ag an Rialtas amháin atá sé na cinní a dhéanamh. Tá an t-Aire in ann na cinní cearta nó na cinní míchearta a dhéanamh. Fágaimid sin faoi. Bíodh sé cinnte de rud amháin. Má’s é an cinne mícheart a dhéanann an Rialtas beidh go leor le rá ag gnáth phobal na tíre faoi na geallúintí a tugadh agus iad sa bhFreasúra maidir le beairicí Airm.

Deputy Brendan Smith: I welcome the opportunity to contribute on this important motion. I commend my party colleague, Deputy Dara Calleary, our justice and defence spokesperson, on putting this very comprehensive motion before the House. It quite rightly affirms and supports the critical role of the Permanent Defence Force throughout our country and in local communities. We note the substantial consolidation of barracks that has occurred over the past number of years.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: Fianna Fáil closed them down.

Deputy Brendan Smith: If Deputy Jerry Buttimer reads the Minister’s amendment to the motion, he will note the progress made with the consolidation of barracks even though Fine Gael people railed against it as usual. That consolidation of barracks has been made possible by the very considerable political progress which has been made on this island.

Deputy Dara Calleary’s motion is in stark contrast to the amendment proposed by the Minister in which he condemns public representatives who represent the views and concerns of their local communities. In the amendment, the Minister is obviously condemning the concerns expressed by some of his Government colleagues, some of whom are in the Chamber. I note the Minister commends the consolidation of barracks which has occurred and which enabled major investment across the infrastructure of our Permanent Defence Force. That programme of rationalisation was effective, realistic and left in place the network of military installations needed in our State.

I understand that traditionally there has been higher recruitment to the Defence Forces from areas where barracks are located. We have a long Army tradition in my county of Cavan, as my constituency colleague, Deputy Joe O’Reilly, will know, and I am very glad to have the opportunity to once again commend the work of members of the Defence Forces throughout the country but, in particular, those members who I personally know and who are stationed in Dún Uí Néill in Cavan. I also commend the work of retired and deceased personnel and take the opportunity to pay tribute to so many of those personnel who, in different decades, served overseas on overseas missions acting as great ambassadors for our country.

Coming from a Border area, one is probably more conscious of the vital role of our Army and particularly the work that was carried out by those personnel in very difficult times during the late 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and in to the early 1990s. The changed circumstances in the north of my province of Ulster enabled the consolidation of barracks. Barracks have been closed in the three southern Ulster counties of Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan but three key military installations, all strategically placed, have been left in place. It was probably in 1987 or 1988 that the then Fianna Fáil Government approved the provision of a new barracks in Cavan town and sourced the site on the Dublin Road.

8 o’clock

That barracks, subsequently named Dún Uí Néill, replaced an old and inadequate barracks on Barrack Hill in the town. As a result of that major investment during a time of great economic difficulties, soldiers based in Cavan were able to move into the most modern barracks in Europe in 1990. It is the only operational barracks that has been provided by our own State and all of us are proud of the modern facilities it offers. It is run in an efficient manner and provides good value for money. It is the most economical barracks in the country, with running costs of €200,000 per annum when one includes maintenance, utilities, electricity, heating and transport fuels. It is also a major Reserve Defence Forces training centre. Other FCA centres throughout counties Cavan and Leitrim were merged into Dún Uí Néill to provide better training facilities and benefits of scale from the larger numbers involved.

For towns like Cavan, the Army barracks is an integral part of the community and local economy. The recent reports on the Government’s plans to shut this facility have caused great distress not only to the Army and civilian personnel directly affected but also among the wider community. There is no avoiding the fact that the closure of the barracks will cost jobs and hurt local businesses. Some 120 personnel from A company, sixth battalion of the western command are based in Cavan and an additional 22 personnel are currently serving on the United Nations mission in southern Lebanon.

The facilities of the barracks have been made available to the local community and a state-of-the-art gymnasium and other sporting facilities have been used by our county teams and local sports clubs. Senior citizen organisations also regularly use the facilities. The provision of public facilities on a practical basis to local community organisations has been a welcome development. Deputy O’Reilly and I have been invited to the gym on numerous occasions but work has precluded us from attending. It is very ecumenical to invite all sides.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 14:59
Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): The Deputy should speak to the motion.

Deputy Brendan Smith: I will in future.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: The Deputy should stop going to the football.

Deputy Brendan Smith: I remind Deputy Buttimer that our lady footballers are playing in the all-Ireland replay next Sunday, along with participants from County Westmeath.

Deputy Nicky McFadden: Yes.

Deputy Brendan Smith: The importance of the Reserve Defence Force is often underestimated. The 6,000 members of the Reserve use several barracks for training purposes, including Dún Uí Néill. The convenient location of barracks is an important part of the recruitment process. In the years commonly referred to as the Troubles, many young people were fortunate to have been recruited to the FCA rather than becoming involved with undesirable organisations. We should not undervalue the training and discipline that was imparted to young people through the FCA.

Last night approximately 500 people attended a public meeting in Cavan to voice their deep concern about the future of our barracks. They recognise that it is a hub of economic activity and are worried about the effect of its closure on their town. The barracks provides both direct and indirect employment by generating a demand for local goods and services. The soldiers and their families are an integral part of the fabric of life in Cavan. The uncertainty which the Minister has allowed to develop is a cause of concern for the local community and, in particular, the personnel based in Dún Uí Néill. Their families outlined to me at the public meeting, my clinics and by telephone their worries regarding relocation of the Cavan personnel and the additional financial burden that would ensue. Deputy O’Reilly and Senator Wilson accompanied me to last night’s meeting and Deputies Heather Humphreys and Conlan were also represented.

The pivotal location of Dún Uí Néill is clear on maps of the Border area. Three barracks are located along our long land Border, namely, Finner Camp in County Donegal in the north west, Dún Uí Néill in the centre and Aiken Barracks in Dundalk on the east coast. It is clear that a barracks is needed in the central Border area.

Apart from the difficulties associated with the Troubles, the Army also worked alongside officials from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Garda and other statutory agencies to limit the spread of foot and mouth disease and BSE. We value the major contribution played by the Army in that national effort. Our security forces ensured the successful implementation of a sophisticated and comprehensive programme that minimised disruption to the agriculture and food sector. Stopping the spread of disease from the neighbouring jurisdiction was of the utmost importance to protect the hard earned and well deserved reputation of our food industry. That reputation is key to our success in exporting food and drink products to 163 countries worldwide.

It is simplistic to say that soldiers can be moved when operational needs arise. That should only be necessary when the work undertaken is short in duration. For longer undertakings accommodation and other facilities are needed. If barracks are closed, which I hope will not happen, where will the relocated soldiers be accommodated? My understanding from speaking to individuals closely associated with the Defence Forces is that alternative accommodation is lacking should the Government proceed with closing the facilities named in the motion. I hope the Minister can assure us there will be no such closures.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 14:59
Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): I move amendment No. 1:


To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:


“— commends the Government’s resolute action in facing the economic crisis and notes that this action is now bearing fruit;


— supports the Government in taking the further difficult and unpopular decisions that are necessary to restore the public finances;


— accepts that reform and reorganisation in the public service, including the redeployment of staff, are essential to maximise value for money for the taxpayer;


— accepts that, because of reductions in the budget and strength of the Defence Forces required by the 2011 Estimates decided by the previous Government and because of the constraints imposed by the EU/IMF agreement entered into by the previous Government, further savings are required;


— notes that these savings are being examined in the context of the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure currently underway;


— rejects the glaring inconsistency of the proponents of the motion who, when in Government, closed ten barracks and also caused the fiscal crisis that the current Government has to address;


— notes that the experience of the previous Government confirms that barrack closures deliver a substantial efficiency gain to the Defence Forces; and


— condemns mischievous attempts to exaggerate the impact of these necessary decisions and create unnecessary fears among local communities.”

I wish to share time with Deputies Buttimer, Darragh Murphy, O’Reilly, Heather Humphreys and Conlan, by agreement.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Alan Shatter: I have to begin with an expression of admiration. Courage was always in short supply when it came to taking tough decisions during the wasted years of the Celtic tiger boom. However, there was one area where the Deputies opposite showed a modicum of decisiveness. When in Government, they presided over the closure of no fewer than ten barracks, as Deputy Calleary boasted this evening. Their justification was based on a perfectly logical and reasonable analysis. The consolidation of barracks into a smaller number of locations was a key objective of the previous Government’s White Paper on Defence and recommended in many reports. It remains a key objective of the ongoing defence modernisation programme to maximise the effectiveness of the Defence Forces. I accept the previous Government’s analysis. The facts remain the facts, regardless of who is in government.

However, there is nothing admirable in the sheer brass neck entailed in putting this disingenuous motion before the House.

Deputy Robert Troy: That is not what the Minister’s Cabinet colleague said.

Deputy Alan Shatter: As everyone knows, Fianna Fáil led coalitions destroyed the public finances and led our country into receivership. As a result, we have had to undertake a searching reappraisal of every aspect of public expenditure. The legacy we inherited is so dreadful that no area of expenditure can be excluded from review.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Say that to the Minister of State, Deputy Penrose.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 15:00
Deputy Alan Shatter: The proposers of tonight’s motion know this. They also know that I cannot exclude barracks from this review. I have said so plainly in reply to questions in this House. I have never resorted to any sort of equivocation on the subject. The Exchequer is under extreme pressure and no amount of bluff and bluster will bridge the yawning gap between the Government’s income and current expenditure. Unfortunately, more hard decisions will be needed.

There are few opportunities to trim defence spending without impacting on front-line delivery. It is self-evident that concentrating personnel in fewer locations provides the potential to protect essential collective training and reduce unnecessary overheads in terms of barrack management, administration, maintenance and security. It also affords me, as Minister for Defence, the possibility of maintaining the Defence Forces at their current level of approximately 9,500.

This Government has nothing to apologise for in seeking to effect further efficiencies. To place the glaring inconsistency of the Fianna Fáil motion in perspective, I want to place on the record of the House the previous Government’s record in this regard. In July 1998, the then Government announced the closure of six barracks: Ballincollig, Fermoy, Devoy, Magee, Castleblayney and Clancy, with the relocation of 880 personnel. In the context of the 2009 budget, the then Government also announced the closure of four barracks: Monaghan, Lifford, Longford and Rockhill House, Letterkenny, with the relocation of 595 personnel, and also St. Bricin’s Hospital in Dublin. The closure of the four barracks has been achieved. The consolidation of St. Bricin’s is linked to the provision of modern medical facilities within the existing departmental property portfolio and will take some time to implement.

While the closure of the barracks and the sale of the properties has provided funding for investment, it was never the sole driving factor for the consolidation of defence infrastructure, as the Deputies opposite well know, including the two Deputies who spoke who are former Ministers for Defence. The primary driver for barrack reorganisation and personnel redeployment is the efficient and effective delivery of military capabilities. As I have said in response to many questions in this House, Defence Forces properties are kept under constant review in terms of addressing Defence Forces requirements and ensuring the most appropriate organisation of the Defence Forces, taking account of the operational requirements.

The austerity measures initiated by the previous Government have meant the strength of the Permanent Defence Force has now reduced to 1970s levels and there is an urgent need to maximise efficiency to mitigate the effects of that reduction. Releasing personnel for operational duties requires that the number of barracks be reviewed. If it transpires that significant efficiencies in manpower usage can be gained by reducing the number of barracks, why should this Government use different criteria from its predecessor? The double-think behind this motion verges on the embarrassing. Do the Deputies opposite think the public has developed amnesia so quickly?

Deputy Dara Calleary: They had better have.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Announce the closures.

Deputy Alan Shatter: The opportunistic motion tabled by Fianna Fáil deserves no credibility coming from the party responsible for the economic cataclysm that has impacted on our people. It starkly confirms that despite that party’s unprecedented defeat in the general election and the passage of time, no lessons of any nature have been learned. All the more perplexing is the party’s failure to acknowledge that previous programmes of barrack rationalisation provided funding that, together with pay savings, provided essential resources required for infrastructure, training area development and equipment procurement.

Since 1998, a total of €84.98 million has been realised from the disposal of six of the barracks closed by Fianna Fáil-led Governments. Agreement in principle has been reached to dispose of two more of these. Notwithstanding the extremely depressed state of the property market, it now appears that the round of barrack closures effected by Fianna Fáil in 2009 will ultimately yield more than €5 million. It is contradictory for Fianna Fáil Deputies to claim the current barrack structure should be maintained given Ireland’s commitment to the United Nations. Mention was made of some members of the Defence Forces in southern Lebanon at present. In practice, nothing could be further from the truth. To support our UN contribution, we must avoid spreading our resources too thinly and starving the Defence Forces of the appropriate investment in equipment and training which will allow them to continue to meet the standards necessary to participate in overseas missions. Let me be quite clear: unless we prioritise the resources available to the Defence Forces into the appropriate areas, we will not be able to send troops overseas in the future because they will not have the appropriate equipment and training. We must do the best we can within the constrained resource envelope available. We cannot have it both ways. If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. To try to pretend otherwise, as Deputies on the other side of the House are doing, is misleading and they know that.

The standard of financial analysis underpinning the Opposition motion is depressingly familiar. It is the type of analysis that brought us to the brink of financial disaster. The Exchequer receipts have fallen by approximately a third. What is the Opposition’s prescription? It is to reprimand the Government for daring to think about a measure that some of the Opposition applied widely when in government to effect efficiencies.

Deputy Dara Calleary: That is exactly what the Minister spent the past ten years doing.

Deputy Alan Shatter: The implication of this motion is that we should conduct the comprehensive review of expenditure that is under way on the basis that the taxpayer should continue to invest in something that is not required. Does that make any sense of any nature to anyone?

What I want to achieve in the comprehensive review of expenditure is the concentration of our investment in those areas of the Defence Forces which are important to its operational and overseas capabilities to ensure it is properly equipped and trained and that we do not need to reduce its strength substantially below the current strength of 9,500.

Deputy Barry Cowen: The programme for Government states 10,500.

Deputy Alan Shatter: After years of economic gloom, signs of hope are beginning to appear. Motions such as this are a profound disappointment, however, and a reminder that the Deputies opposite still have very little to contribute towards a solution to our very serious economic situation. As other Deputies have done and as I consistently do, I very much commend the work and commitment of our Defence Forces.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 15:01
Deputies: Hear, hear.

Deputy Alan Shatter: I regret that this is a time of some uncertainty for them. This uncertainty derives from the appalling financial legacy we have inherited from the party opposite-----

Deputy Barry Cowen: The Minister should make his decision and cut to the chase.

Deputy Alan Shatter: -----and the fact that we must now consider every option available to us both to effect savings and to ensure we use our resources wisely.

Deputy Robert Troy: The Minister should end the uncertainty.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Ultimately, my concern is to ensure we maintain within our Defence Forces a minimum of 9,500 men and women-----

Deputy Robert Troy: The programme for Government stated 10,500.

Deputy Alan Shatter: -----who can undertake their duties for this State, both within the State and internationally, and continue to serve us as proudly as they have done to date.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: I commend the Minister on his speech. I listened to Deputy Ó Cuív and I could not believe his remarks both as Gaeilge agus trí Bhéarla. He spoke about flying kites. He was a man who sat at the Cabinet table and who in a ten year period presided over the decline in numbers from 10,726 Army personnel to 9,500. He is a person who was a member of a party that in government presided over the closure of Army barracks. The leader of Fianna Fáil spoke on the opening day of this Dáil of the end to Punch and Judy politics. Six months on, the best we can see-----

Deputy James Bannon: Judy is on the far side.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: -----is the motion before us in the names of the Fianna Fáil Members. I wish to outline a speech for the Members opposite.

Deputy Robert Troy: We are here to listen.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: A previous Minister indicated:


As Minister for Defence I am determined that this progress will continue. It is therefore necessary to ensure that the implementation of the White Paper on Defence will proceed as planned.

He also referred to:


[M]arking the end of a long chapter in the history of Ballincollig. This was an emotive occasion for the Defence Forces and in particular for the many personnel who had served in Murphy Barracks over the years. But time moves on and without change there can be no renewal.

Those quotes were from a previous Minister for Defence, Michael Smith, a member of the Fianna Fáil Party, a man who sat on the Government benches and who was, along with the Fianna Fáil Party leader, a member of Cabinet who closed a barracks in his own constituency and another one in the Ireland South European Parliament constituency. No one from the Fianna Fáil benches at the time, Deputies Moynihan, O’Keeffe or Martin, voted against the closures.

This is a nakedly political motion. This is what Fianna Fáil said it would change. I compliment Deputy Brendan Smith on the great argument he made as to why we must keep the barracks open, namely, that the Cavan football team can keep training there. That is a very good argument.

Deputy Barry Cowen: That is crass stupidity.

Deputy Brendan Smith: I am sure my Fine Gael colleagues-----

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: Deputy Smith made the comment.

Deputy Brendan Smith: -----are proud of Deputy Buttimer’s comment. It is pathetic.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): Deputy Smith, please.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: Why did none of Deputy Smith’s colleagues from Cork South-Central or Cork North-West vote in 1998 against the Government’s closure? Why did that not happen?

Deputy Brendan Smith: Does Deputy Buttimer wish to re-open the barracks in Ballincollig? That seems to be what he is talking about.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): Deputy Buttimer should stick to the motion.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: I am speaking to the motion. It would be foolhardy to vote with the Opposition. It would be crass-----

Deputy Robert Troy: To close Columb Barracks.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): Allow Deputy Buttimer, he has only two minutes left.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: -----to go over and vote with Deputy Cowen on this one.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Deputy Buttimer brings it upon himself.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: The Members opposite have shown no concern for Army spouses or families, none whatever. They have shown no plan for the evolution of the Defence Forces, and the Minister is correct.

Deputy Brendan Smith: Sure the Minister spoke about the privatisation of the Defence Forces that has happened.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: It is proper that we retain the minimum level-----

Deputy Brendan Smith: Deputy Buttimer should go back and read a bit more. He should get some of the facts before he makes accusations.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: -----as Deputy Calleary in his speech remarked upon.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Deputy Buttimer stated he was bringing it up to 10,500.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: The hypocrisy of the motion is astounding. Deputy Cowen, like me, is a new Deputy, but he might listen because then he might learn.

Deputy Barry Cowen: I read the programme for Government.

Deputy Brendan Smith: How long is Deputy Buttimer in here?

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: The Government of which Deputy Cowen’s colleagues were members destroyed this country. They took the soul and the heart out of rural and urban Ireland. He may well smile. Today there are men and women in this country who are suffering as a consequence of the cheap politics Fianna Fáil played for 20 years, and he should never forget it. As long as I am in this House, I will never let not only Deputy Cowen, but his party, forget it.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Deputy Buttimer is very cross tonight.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: This motion condemns an active and progressive Minister for Defence who states that consolidation of Army barracks over the past number of years was acknowledged by Fianna Fáil.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): Deputy Buttimer has 52 seconds left.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: I am almost finished.

If there was no election in March last, Deputy Calleary knows well he would be coming here with a different motion. Deputy Calleary should change his tune and change his politics and remember that we are talking about communities and about people.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 15:01
Deputy Barry Cowen: Change the programme for Government.

Deputy Brendan Smith: Deputy Buttimer tried to rubbish people.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: The cheap political gamesmanship will earn them no further increase in opinion polls.

Deputy Brendan Smith: Deputy Buttimer tried to rubbish people who get access to public facilities. Shame on him.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): I ask Members to allow the speaker make his few points.

Deputy Dara Murphy: I welcome the opportunity to speak on this motion, particularly to concur with the amendment as tabled by the Minister.

I agree with Deputies Calleary, Ó Cuív and Smith about the fine work that our armed services continue to do in the country. There is huge potential to develop the resource we have throughout the country. As Deputy O’Brien may remember, when Cork flooded a couple of years ago, uniquely, in Ireland, the Army came to the assistance of the civil powers to provide significant relief, particularly on the northside of the city which we represent. This is a difficult period for Army families, but there is a great future for our forces in this country. Personally, I would like to see their role developed, both nationally and internationally.

Over the past 20 years, many reports and commissions have identified barrack closure as a fundamental requirement towards improving military effectiveness and efficiency. If we were to start from scratch, such a small country as ours would never contemplate a position of having 28 barracks, as we had in 1998. Successive Fianna Fáil Governments over the past 12 years have closed ten of these and it is fair to say that these barracks were closed during a time of economic boom.

More noteworthy still is why these barracks will have to be closed, if any are to be closed. The deal entered into by Fianna Fáil with the troika, the people who are lending money to our country, commits us as a people to cost-cutting measures that are today unavoidable. The closure of ten barracks under Fianna Fáil may have been prevented at the time if the Government had so wished. Sadly, this Government does not have such a luxury.

The Minister, Deputy Howlin, has correctly insisted that all Ministers and Departments share the burden of restoring Ireland’s economic independence through prudent managing of the nation’s finance. This prudence is already reaping considerable rewards. In the past two days, for the first time in a long time unemployment figures are falling. These improvements are modest. Nonetheless the light at the end of our economic tunnel that Fianna Fáil extinguished is flickering to life for the people of our country and for our unemployed. For the first time in five years the Irish economy is experiencing growth. It is modest growth, but growth nonetheless.

The ambition of this Government is now very much not only to regain the sovereignty and financial independence that Fianna Fáil removed from this proud nation, but to be the first programme nation in Europe to do so. In fact, from being one of the malignant tumours that threatened to kill the European vision, this country is now being seen as having the leadership, integrity and courage, not only to cure our own problems but to right the prescription for this Continent as a whole. This reality makes the Fianna Fáil Party even sicker. Their delusion that all Governments would be as incompetent and ineffective as their own, has already been proven to be complete nonsense.

Deputy Dara Calleary: They are implementing our budget. It is our budget.

Deputy Dara Murphy: It is widely accepted that the last period of Fianna Fáil Government was the worst since the foundation of the State.

Deputy Robert Troy: How many measures of the budget did they rescind?

Deputy Dara Murphy: This is a remarkable achievement.

Deputy Robert Troy: How many measures of the budget did they rescind?

Deputy Dara Murphy: This is a remarkable achievement, given the disastrous Fianna Fáil Governments of the 1970s and 1980s.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): Deputy Dara Murphy has one minute left.

Deputy Dara Murphy: Sadly for democracy in this country, Fianna Fáil in opposition is even more self-serving, cynical and misleading.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Hear, hear.

Deputy Dara Murphy: For their own political ambition, they are willing to prey on the fears of the soldiers and their families who will be affected by these closures.

Deputy Barry Cowen: So they are closing.

Deputy Dara Murphy: This is a time for patriotism in Irish politics.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Is that an announcement?

Deputy Dara Murphy: We in Fine Gael, at a time when our country needed bipartisan and co-operative Opposition, embarked on the Tallaght strategy to work together in the nation’s interests. Sadly, Fianna Fáil has once again adopted its default approach to politics in Ireland - Fianna Fáil first and to hell with everybody else.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: Hear, hear.

Deputy Dara Murphy: In truth, their strategy since the election could be described as being closer to a Taliban strategy than a Tallaght strategy.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Deputy Dara Murphy just made the announcement. I thank him

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 15:08
Deputy Joe O’Reilly: I have been in dialogue over the past few weeks with representatives of PDFORRA, with the families involved and with the local community around the Dún Uí Néill in Cavan and as a consequence of that dialogue, I have been in regular consultation with the Minister and his senior officials in bringing the welfare issues and the general concerns of the personnel there to the Minister. As Deputy Smith, my constituency colleague, made reference to, last night I attended and participated in an excellently run, fine public meeting in Cavan. I propose to continue engaging in that dialogue with the personnel and the Minister.

I want to put in context a couple of unavoidable issues that surround this debate. When we agreed to the IMF-EU deal we sold out our economic sovereignty. It is a legacy issue and it happened during the term of the previous Government. That IMF-EU deal makes it mandatory for the State to achieve a budget deficit next year of 8.6% of GDP. That, in practical terms, means - this is contingent on the Exchequer returns in November - that there will be no less than €3.6 billion in cuts in next year’s budget. That further means there must be up to €30 million in cuts in the Department of Defence, and that raises fundamental questions. This is an unavoidable backdrop to the debate. Everything that the Government is doing is predicated on the effort to restore our economic sovereignty, get our people working again and restore the fortunes of our country.

The strength of the Defence Forces has been cut back to 1970 levels. At the end of 2000, there were 10,726 personnel in the Defence Forces; today, there are 9,500. That is another legacy issue.

The Minister and the Department are determined to maintain the current strength of the Army, and there is a couple of compelling reasons to do this. We have in excess of 800 personnel serving abroad, and we want to maintain that. We have to deal with unforeseen events, such as storms. My colleague, Deputy Smith, correctly alluded to the role of the Defence Forces in disease eradication. We have to sustain the morale of the Defence Forces. There is a constant need to be ready to assist in the event of disasters or emergencies. For those reasons, the Minister and the Fine Gael Party in government are determined to preserve the strength of the Defence Forces.

My personal hope is that people will be recruited into the Defence Forces over the coming months, if it is necessary to preserve the existing strength of the Defence Forces. I commend that possibility to the Minister in the interests of maintaining the current personnel levels. I will ask him to consider it every time I speak to him.

Fine Gael values the role of the Defence Forces. Our historic commitment to the Defence Forces goes back to the foundation of the State. We will not be found wanting in defence of the Defence Forces and in consolidation of their numbers.

Part of the backdrop to this debate is the fact that senior management personnel in the Army have consistently sought the consolidation of their barracks. That has been recommended in report after report. It is worth repeating that the Deputies opposite closed a plethora of barracks across this country in 1998 and 2009. I will not list the barracks in question because I am facing time constraints.

Deputy Robert Troy: That is what the motion states.

Deputy Joe O’Reilly: It is worth noting that, as alluded to earlier, significant savings of €85 million have been made on foot of these sales. I emphasise that if any further closures were to take place, the money accruing from them would be used to acquire equipment for the Army.

The final and critical point I would like to make as part of the backdrop to this debate is that in the event of closures, Government Departments would be advised immediately of the availability of these facilities. I have been impressing strongly on the Minister the need for the Government to prioritise the ongoing occupation of these facilities in the interests of restoring economic activity and ensuring local economies are not adversely affected.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): The Deputy is eating into his colleagues’ time.

Deputy Joe O’Reilly: We have to look at this debate in the context of the background in which it is taking place. We have to recognise that it would not be taking place at all if it were not for the financial legacy the Government inherited. We have to recognise that some of these decisions are being dictated to us under the EU-IMF deal. We should bring honesty and integrity to the debate and recognise the truthful background to it.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 15:23
Deputy Heather Humphreys: I attended a public meeting in Cavan town last night regarding the possible closure of Dún Uí Néill Barracks. Approximately 500 people were in attendance, which provides an insight into the significant concerns in Cavan town and its environs about the future of the barracks. As someone who has worked in the Cavan area for many years, I fully acknowledge the substantial contribution the Defence Forces have made to Cavan and the entire Border region. My Oireachtas colleagues and I listened carefully to the concerns of those who attended last night’s meeting. As an elected representative of the Cavan-Monaghan constituency, I believe it is important that those concerns are highlighted in the Dáil Chamber this evening.

The location of the barracks in close proximity to the Border means the security situation must be taken into account. There continues to be a threat from dissident activities in Border areas. I want to pay tribute to the members of the Defence Forces who have served in the Border area. They were under threat for many years. They worked in under very difficult circumstances in the Border region, often in fear of losing their lives. The barracks in Cavan represent an ideal location for accommodating troops in the event of the arrival of another agricultural disease like foot and mouth disease or BSE. The Defence Forces previously played an important role in ensuring Ireland maintained its disease-free status.

The potential closure of Dún Uí Néill barracks and the redeployment of troops to various other barracks would lead to social disruption for many families. Young families might have no option other than to move away from Cavan. This would result in hardship for young children if they had to change schools. There are concerns that the barracks in Athlone and Dundalk do not have the necessary accommodation to cater for additional troops. They have been overcrowded since other barracks were closed by the previous Government. It is important to bear in mind that the Defence Forces often carry out duties which go beyond their remit. The Defence Forces stepped in during last year’s extremely inclement weather to ensure nurses and other workers could be brought to Cavan General Hospital.

Deputy Robert Troy: Where will the assistance come from next year?

Deputy Heather Humphreys: The troops based at Dún Uí Néill barracks play a vital role for the local community in this and other respects. Essentially, they are the last port of call in times of crisis. Some 120 troops and a number of civilian workers are based at the barracks. If the barracks were to close, it would result in a major loss to the local economy. It has been pointed out that the loss of trade to local suppliers could further exacerbate unemployment problems in the Cavan area.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): The Deputy’s time is up.

Deputy Heather Humphreys: That is okay. I have outlined many of the concerns that have been raised with me and the other Deputies for the area. I strongly believe I would be doing a disservice to the constituents I serve if I were to fail to express their views here. As a Government Deputy, I would like to place on the record that I am extremely disappointed about the possible closure of Dún Uí Néill barracks. However, I recognise that the task of the Government is to make many tough decisions of this nature. The bottom line is that the negligence of the previous Administration has left us with no alternative other than to cut costs. Fianna Fáil has been quick to berate the Government about the potential closure of Army barracks. Its motion “condemns the Minister for Defence’s refusal to rule out the closure of any Army barracks”. It is obvious that some Opposition Deputies have short memories. Fianna Fáil was in power when the decision to close the Army barracks in Monaghan town was taken.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): The Deputy has gone way over time. I have given her a lot of latitude.

Deputy Heather Humphreys: I do not recall many Fianna Fáil Deputies seeking to condemn the decision of the former Minister in that respect.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): The Deputy is eating into the time of her colleague, Deputy Conlan.

Deputy Heather Humphreys: That is okay.

Deputy Robert Troy: The Deputy might think it is okay, but her colleague might not agree.

Deputy Barry Cowen: He might be happy to stay quiet on this occasion.

Deputy Heather Humphreys: I understand that cost savings must be found. No Government Department is exempt from the imposition of cost-cutting measures. The Department of Defence is no different. The Minister, Deputy Shatter, has an unenviable task in seeking to do his utmost to retain the strength of the Defence Forces at its current level with limited resources at his disposal. I ask him to take account of the concerns I have raised in relation to this matter and examine every possible alternative before a final decision is reached.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): I call Deputy Conlan, but I do not know that there is much time remaining for him.

Deputy Seán Conlan: Nobody likes the idea of closing military barracks that have existed in Irish towns for centuries, in many cases. The reality is that we are not living in normal times. I am sure the Minister would not consider doing this if it were not absolutely necessary. The Government has been charged with turning around the legacy of the previous Government, which left us in an economic mess. I do not need to remind the House that the eyes of the EU and IMF are on us constantly. Whether we like it or not, we need to make difficult decisions if the savings needed to get us out of the economic hole in which we find ourselves are to be made. We have a stark choice between rationalising our Army barracks infrastructure and reducing the number of soldiers in the Defence Forces.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: The Government is doing both.

Deputy Seán Conlan: The option of barracks closures, which is being discussed this evening, may or may not happen. If it does happen, at least Defence Forces personnel can be assured that they will be redeployed, unlike the private sector workers who have to find alternative employment when they lose their jobs. That is the stark reality of the situation. I note from the Minister’s comments that any plan in this regard will be based on the previous Government’s White Paper on Defence. I am sure it will be discussed with the heads of the Army and the other branches of the Defence Forces. They will make a rational decision about the operational capacity of the Army, and where best to locate Army barracks, on the basis of best practice. I am concerned about the possibility of a barracks being closed in the Border region. The Defence Forces did a sterling job along the Border to protect this country during the Troubles. I pay tribute to everybody in our Defence Forces.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): I thank the Deputy for his brevity.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 15:23
Deputy Jonathan O’Brien: I would like to share time with Deputy Ó Snodaigh.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Jonathan O’Brien: I welcome the opportunity to speak on this motion. At this time, it would be a retrograde step to contemplate further closures of barracks in towns that are already suffering from intense distress brought on by rising unemployment and emigration. This is not the time to compound that suffering with closures which to all intents and purposes are the equivalent of closing medium sized factories.

Before addressing the motion, I wish to point out a technical issue. The Fianna Fáil motion refers to Defence Forces barracks across Ireland and calls on the Minister for Defence not to close any further barracks. There are a number of barracks in the north east which I would not mind having closed but I do not believe even the Minister has the power to close them. He might work on that. We have been campaigning for years to have some of them closed in the Six Counties, which is part of Ireland, believe it or not, as it consists of all Thirty-two Counties, not Twenty-six Counties and certainly not Twenty-two. That aside, we welcome the spirit of the motion, which we will support.

Sinn Féin is opposed to any further closure or consolidation of Defence Forces barracks and any possible further reduction in personnel at this time. The closure of these barracks would lead to a greater property portfolio for the State, which I am sure the Troika would be more than happy to see. Given the distressed state of the market, however, we would be unable to sell any of this property and, even if we did, we would certainly not get value for money.

I have already alluded to the detrimental consequences of removing Defence Forces personnel and their families from some of the areas referred to in the motion. The vast majority of these personnel are an important and integral part of the local community as well as serving in the Defence Forces. They and their families contribute millions of euro to the local economy each year and any closure or further consolidation would depress those local economies which are already suffering from this Government’s failure to create jobs.

The Defence Forces are a vital component of our emergency services, as was shown by their expert work during the recent weather conditions. As Deputy Dara Murphy, my colleague in Cork North-Central, pointed out, during the recent flooding of Cork the Defence Forces came to the fore and the skill and expertise with which they handled that issue and the way they interacted with local communities was to be welcomed. For that type of reason, it is an advantage to have a spread of such expertise throughout the State, in particular given the changing weather conditions and the possibility of further floods.

While the Government stated that no decision has been made in regard to future closures or consolidation, everyone knows it is on the agenda and is being actively considered. The Minister himself has repeatedly refused to rule out closures or further consolidation, although that is not a criticism as I would much prefer a Minister to at least say something is either in or out rather than say one thing and then do another, as previous Governments have done.

As the Minister of State at the Department of Defence, Deputy Paul Kehoe, is present, I note he recently said in regard to Columb Barracks in Mullingar that the dispersal of Defence Forces personnel over an extended number of locations continues to be a major impediment to essential collective training and the releasing of personnel for operational duties. I have not seen any evidence to support this assertion. If it exists, I ask the Minister of State or the Minister for Defence to furnish me with the information so we can make an informed decision when this matter comes before the House.

Given the statement from the Minister earlier and the statements of some other Deputies, there is no doubt there is disquiet on all sides on this issue. It is time clarity was brought to the matter. A review of public expenditure is underway, which I am sure will form some basis in regard to reaching a decision. However, it is important the Minister makes a decision on this issue as soon as possible to provide clarity for those families.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Nuair a d’fhéach mé ar an rún seo ar dtús, cheap mé go raibh duine éigin ag magadh, ní díreach sa rún ach sa leasúón Rialtas. Is ceap magaidh sinn má leanfaimid leis an sórt seo polaitíochta. Ní ró-fhada ó shin a bhí Rialtas Fhianna Fáil agus an Chomhaontais Ghlais ag déanamh an rud ceannann céanna atá siad ag cáineadh inniu ar Rialtas nua Fhine Gael agus Pháirtí an Lucht Oibre. Is ait go bhfuil an Rialtas nua tar éis polasaí an sean-Rialtais a thógáil go huile is go hiomlán.

I thought it was a joke that this motion was before us at all. The arguments contained within the Fianna Fáil motion are the exact arguments I put to Deputy - or Corporal - Willie O’Dea when he was on the other side of the House, when he and his Government implemented a policy of closing down barracks the length and breadth of this country - of this State, in fact.

At the time, the reason the Government did this was to sell off property to the highest bidder. There was no benefit to local communities. The Government would not even grant the local authorities the land to ensure they could use it for social housing purposes. Instead, it sold it to them at a huge profit or, as in the case of Clancy Barracks in this city, it made local authorities bid against a private concern, as happened up and down the country. This is something I do not want any future Government to repeat. If the Government is contemplating closing down the barracks listed in the motion, I want an assurance that it will not sell off this land and will instead transfer it to the local authorities or organisations such as the IDA to use for proper purposes, rather than making a profit on the back of it.

If anyone goes to Clancy Barracks in my constituency, they will find it is sitting under the umbrella of NAMA because one of the big developers, P. Elliott, has collapsed and is in receivership. Most of the apartments are half built and sitting empty, and even those that are completed are sitting empty while half the site is derelict. At the time, we had asked that this land be transferred to Dublin City Council in order to redevelop the area, but it did not happen. Shame on the last Government and shame on this Government if it is contemplating doing exactly what the last Government intended to do, which is to close the barracks listed in the motion. I remember not long ago a campaign to try to prevent the closures in Cavan, Mullingar and other areas which are listed here. The new Government has just taken the clothes from the previous Fianna Fáil Government. Shame on it.

The Government amendment should give a commitment that none of this land or property will be used in any way that is detrimental to social good, and that it would be transferred to local authorities, which in many cases are in need of land to redevelop towns, for future social housing use or for social facilities such as sports facilities. In the main, however, most of these barracks should not be closed and sold off in any shape or form.

The fact this is even being contemplated, and the fact the strength and location of the Defence Forces is being dictated to us, in this State, by the IMF, proves the truth of what we said about both the Nice treaty and the Lisbon treaty, namely, that in the future our neutrality will be gone and the strength of our Defence Forces will be dictated by external forces. This is again proven here. It is even written in the Government amendment, because that ties each decision pertaining to the neutrality of this State and to what one of its backbenchers called the armed forces, that is, the Defence Forces, to dictation by an outside force, namely, the IMF and the European Union in this case. I appeal to the Government to withdraw its amendment and to support the motion tabled by Fianna Fáil, even though it is disgraceful the latter party tabled it without any hint of the embarrassment it should have, given its previous history in respect of barracks closures.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 15:24
Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: I will focus on the threatened barracks closure in my constituency and I appeal to the Minister, Deputy Shatter, to support the retention of Dún Uí Néill Barracks in Cavan, as well as its full complement of serving soldiers and civilian employees. I believe Cavan to be an important location for the Defence Forces, allowing speedy response to any given situation arising right across the counties of Leitrim, Cavan and Monaghan. On foot of the closure of the Monaghan barracks and the earlier closures of Cootehill and Castleblayney, Dún Uí Néill became home to many of those displaced members. That they and their families would be obliged to face further displacement with all that entails, including housing mortgage renegotiations in the most difficult of times across this sector and resecuring the education needs of their children, is grossly unfair and may force some to leave. Is the dole queue their only future? Surely this is not the objective.

Built in 1990, Dún Uí Néill is a purpose-built Irish Defence Forces barracks, not a vacated facility from another century. I understand it is a fine facility that meets the needs of its complement of 150 serving soldiers and ten civilian staff. For the wives and partners of those currently serving in Lebanon, of whom I am informed 22 are members attached to Dún Uí Néill, this period of great uncertainty is doubly difficult. A new communications mast was installed in 2010, but at what cost? What real financial gains were made from the earlier barracks closures in counties Monaghan and Donegal and elsewhere? What are the prospects of getting a worthwhile return from such properties and sites in these straitened economic times? What cost would be incurred if, God forbid, another farm related outbreak occurred north of the Border and it was necessary to deploy soldiers? Where would they be billeted? A local GP is medical officer at Dún Uí Néill. This is an important relationship and is one that would not be quickly re-established elsewhere. Moreover, the Reserve Defence Force unit in Cavan also is based at Dún Uí Néill. What would be the cost of alternative premises or does the Minister propose its disbandment, severing finally a close and honoured relationship between the town and county of Cavan and the Defence Forces? I have spoken to some family members of serving members attached to Dún Uí Néill who describe the atmosphere in their homes today as being akin to wake houses. This is a dreadful position in which to place these families. If Dún Uí Néill is to close, the financial advantages are far from clear. This is the most economical barracks in the State and, if vacated, it would require expensive security until its future was determined. Light and heat certainly would be a factor as the buildings surely would not be allowed to decline through the absence of heat in the ravages of our far from idyllic climate.

The real pain, of course, will be borne by the serving soldiers, their wives and partners and especially by their children. What will a serving member who is already in negative equity do? How will he or she cope with a crippling debt to a bank or building society following the sale of his or her home? How will such a member ever again hope to enter into home ownership? No loans are being given out and certainly not to low to middle income earners who are already burdened by a carry-on debt. Credit unions are working under even greater restrictions than previously and will be unable to step into the breach and meet the borrowing needs of dozens of displaced soldiers and their families. Will the Department of Defence and the Exchequer bail out these men and women and their families? What will be the loss to the economy of Cavan town and county? It is estimated that a sum of approximately €3 million per annum, comprising wages spent and supplies secured across the Breifne county, will be taken out of circulation. This will have a knock-on effect with more jobs lost, especially in the retail and services sectors.

The serving soldiers attached to Dún Uí Néill have made an important contribution to the State, the county of Cavan and the wider region. They have given service to individuals and whole communities struggling to deal with a variety of challenges. They have helped to keep the emergency services in action in the worst of weather conditions, with last winter being a particular example when they presented day and night to assist with all needs. I urge the Minister, Deputy Shatter, to visit Dún Uí Néill in the days ahead. Nothing will impress on him more the importance of retaining Dún Uí Néill as a vibrant Defence Forces barracks than his own first-hand observation and experience, and I have no doubt that he would receive a warm welcome at this, one of only two surviving Ulster-based Defence Forces facilities. I urge the Minister to so act.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 15:25
Deputy Seamus Healy: I welcome the opportunity to speak briefly on this motion, particularly because it refers to Kickham Barracks, Clonmel, a barracks with which I obviously am very familiar. Looking across at the Labour Party benches, I note not a single Labour Party member is present in the Chamber. Regardless of their presence or otherwise, I remind Labour Party Ministers and Members that the Labour Party was founded in May 1912 in the town hall in Clonmel. A Labour Party Minister of State already proposes to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of that party in Clonmel with the closure of the town’s acute psychiatric unit. Does the Labour Party in government now propose to celebrate that 100th anniversary by desecrating the names of Connolly and Larkin through the closure of Kickham Barracks, Clonmel, a barracks and a tradition that has been in the town since 1650? If Kickham Barracks has been closed by the time the Labour Party comes to celebrate its 100th anniversary in Clonmel next year, its members will get a very cold reception in the town, or perhaps it will be very hot. The Labour Party members in south Tipperary, as well as Labour Party Oireachtas Members and MEPs, should ensure Kickham Barracks, Clonmel is retained. They owe this to the people of Clonmel and south Tipperary.

The final point in the Government amendment to the motion states it “condemns mischievous attempts to exaggerate the impact of these necessary decisions and create unnecessary fears among local communities”. That is choice, after a Minister of State talked of the closure of Mullingar barracks being crass stupidity and after a Government backbencher referred to the gloves being taken off. The closure of barracks in the country, in Clonmel in particular, would be a huge blow to soldiers and their families. It would be a huge blow to the town of Clonmel, as €4 million to €5 million per annum would be taken out of its local economy. It has been suggested there would be no job losses as a result of such closures. If one takes €4 million or €5 million out of the economy of Clonmel or any other town, be it Mullingar or Cavan or elsewhere, job losses will result. One cannot take such a sum out of a town’s economy without experiencing job losses.

Members have heard many times in this debate that this is the fault of the previous Government. Perhaps that is the case but the present Government was elected on the basis that it would change all that. The Government parties made election promises and commitments to the people that what went on during the previous Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government would change. It also has been suggested that these measures must be taken to achieve savings.

While someone on the Government benches mentioned patriotism, I have stated in this Chamber previously and reiterate now that it is time for some patriotism from the very wealthy people of Ireland. I note that 5% of the wealthy people in this country own €250 billion in assets but do not pay a ha’penny in wealth tax. Many European countries have a wealth tax and there has been debate in this regard in France recently. Moreover, some states in the United States also have a wealth tax. Why should Ireland not have a wealth tax to oblige those with huge incomes and who have huge assets pay their fair share?

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Deputy Healy would qualify for the wealth tax with his additional allowance of €40,000, would he not?

Deputy Seamus Healy: Deputy Kehoe could take a leaf from a former Fine Gael Minister who introduced a wealth tax.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Deputy Healy would qualify for a wealth tax because of his additional €40,000.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): I ask the Minister of State, Deputy Kehoe, to refrain.

Deputy Seamus Healy: A former Minister had the guts to introduce a wealth tax. Deputy Kehoe does not have the guts to so do-----

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Deputy Healy would qualify with his additional €40,000.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): Deputy Kehoe, please.

Deputy Seamus Healy: -----because he is in the pocket of the wealthy and powerful in this country. The reason Fine Gael will not do it is because it does not have the guts to do it.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Deputy Healy should tell the people about his additional €40,000.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): Deputy Kehoe, you are not in possession.

Deputy Seamus Healy: A very small wealth tax on those people would ensure-----

Deputy Paul Kehoe: The sum of €40,000 is not small.

Deputy Seamus Healy: -----this austerity and such closures and job losses would not be visited on ordinary people, that is, on middle income and low income families who are already being devastated by the huge cutbacks and the taxes the Government intends to introduce in the next budget.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Deputy Healy can tell the low income families in Clonmel about his additional €40,000.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): Deputy Kehoe, please.

Deputy Seamus Healy: I call on the Government to withdraw this amendment and to confirm that none of the barracks concerned will be closed but will be continued and funded properly into the future.

Debate adjourned.

DeV
6th October 2011, 15:55
Deputy Seán Conlan: The option of barracks closures, which is being discussed this evening, may or may not happen. If it does happen, at least Defence Forces personnel can be assured that they will be redeployed, unlike the private sector workers who have to find alternative employment when they lose their jobs.


Deputy Jonathan O’Brien: I would like to share time with Deputy Ó Snodaigh.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Jonathan O’Brien: ....Sinn Féin is opposed to any further closure or consolidation of Defence Forces barracks and any possible further reduction in personnel at this time. The closure of these barracks would lead to a greater property portfolio for the State, which I am sure the Troika would be more than happy to see. Given the distressed state of the market, however, we would be unable to sell any of this property and, even if we did, we would certainly not get value for money.



Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin:

Built in 1990, Dún Uí Néill is a purpose-built Irish Defence Forces barracks, not a vacated facility from another century. I understand it is a fine facility that meets the needs of its complement of 150 serving soldiers and ten civilian staff. For the wives and partners of those currently serving in Lebanon, of whom I am informed 22 are members attached to Dún Uí Néill, this period of great uncertainty is doubly difficult. A new communications mast was installed in 2010, but at what cost? What real financial gains were made from the earlier barracks closures in counties Monaghan and Donegal and elsewhere? What are the prospects of getting a worthwhile return from such properties and sites in these straitened economic times? What cost would be incurred if, God forbid, another farm related outbreak occurred north of the Border and it was necessary to deploy soldiers? Where would they be billeted? A local GP is medical officer at Dún Uí Néill. This is an important relationship and is one that would not be quickly re-established elsewhere. Moreover, the Reserve Defence Force unit in Cavan also is based at Dún Uí Néill. What would be the cost of alternative premises or does the Minister propose its disbandment, severing finally a close and honoured relationship between the town and county of Cavan and the Defence Forces? I have spoken to some family members of serving members attached to Dún Uí Néill who describe the atmosphere in their homes today as being akin to wake houses. This is a dreadful position in which to place these families. If Dún Uí Néill is to close, the financial advantages are far from clear. This is the most economical barracks in the State and, if vacated, it would require expensive security until its future was determined. Light and heat certainly would be a factor as the buildings surely would not be allowed to decline through the absence of heat in the ravages of our far from idyllic climate.

The real pain, of course, will be borne by the serving soldiers, their wives and partners and especially by their children. What will a serving member who is already in negative equity do? How will he or she cope with a crippling debt to a bank or building society following the sale of his or her home? How will such a member ever again hope to enter into home ownership? No loans are being given out and certainly not to low to middle income earners who are already burdened by a carry-on debt. Credit unions are working under even greater restrictions than previously and will be unable to step into the breach and meet the borrowing needs of dozens of displaced soldiers and their families. Will the Department of Defence and the Exchequer bail out these men and women and their families? What will be the loss to the economy of Cavan town and county? It is estimated that a sum of approximately €3 million per annum, comprising wages spent and supplies secured across the Breifne county, will be taken out of circulation. This will have a knock-on effect with more jobs lost, especially in the retail and services sectors.


These seem to be the best arguments!

trellheim
6th October 2011, 16:18
The rest of the debate can be found here

http://www.kildarestreet.com/debates/?id=2011-10-05.620.0

( I tell you it is a sad thing, really really sad, to play politics like this and not release the CSR outputs before the presidential election )

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 16:40
The rest of the debate can be found here

http://www.kildarestreet.com/debates/?id=2011-10-05.620.0

( I tell you it is a sad thing, really really sad, to play politics like this and not release the CSR outputs before the presidential election )

Is this your way of telling me not to post the rest of the debate?
It does show parish pump politics at its worst, with every gombeen saying how having a nearby barracks encourages recruitment of youth to the RDF, ignoring completely that there has been practically no RDF recruitment for almost 3 years now.

goc132
6th October 2011, 17:01
Closing the Barracks makes no economic sense

paul g
6th October 2011, 17:11
Is this your way of telling me not to post the rest of the debate?
It does show parish pump politics at its worst, with every gombeen saying how having a nearby barracks encourages recruitment of youth to the RDF, ignoring completely that there has been practically no RDF recruitment for almost 3 years now.

It was not worth going through it, and the appaling gobshittery of those involved.

Actually Clare Daly struck a reasonably sensible note by talking about the importance of the barracks to the economy and the role of the state in supprting the economy.

trellheim
6th October 2011, 17:18
Is this your way of telling me not to post the rest of the debate?

Good Lord no, post away , didn't mean to steal thunder, have at it etc.

Why Michael Healy-Rae got involved I have no idea.

DeV
6th October 2011, 20:18
When Lifford, Rockhill, Monaghan and Longford were closed, 595 personnel were moved to 3 different locations. The move meant that new buildings were required in Finner, Dundalk and Athlone – that meant an investment in the economy of € 2.5 million in capital expenditure (that went towards paying peoples wages and keeping businesses open). The cost of transport and temporary storage was € 0.55 million. I have no idea if there is room in Athlone but most barracks have buildings that aren’t used?! All that is required is office space, training rooms, gun park. Plus maybe transit and/or SLI accomodiation, locker space, more ablutions etc.

According to AA Ireland, Mullingar to Athlone only takes 48 minutes, not a long commute. Do all the soldiers spend all their money in Mullingar? If they aren’t from Mullingar, the chances are the only money they spend in the local economy is on lunch. If they have to commute from Mullingar to Athlone, they will be putting more money into the economy as they will have to buy petrol, get the car serviced etc etc. That would minimally effect families, it will make a difference but it could be worse (Cavan to Athlone is 79 minutes).

It would take 26 minutes extra (according to AA Ireland) from Athlone to the Glen (for shoots) but it would only be a few times a year.

More civilian employees may be required in Athlone but I can see them being made redundant unfortually.

From Dail statements we can see that for a major unit (battalion/regimental size) the actual strength is very small. That means a relatively large percentage of personnel will be either on duty or resting off at any one time. Closing a barracks will mean less personnel are required to look after the logs admin of the barracks (eg catering, ration stores, utilities etc etc). We both know the approx number of personnel involved in guard duty. If you work it out, the saving on SDA alone is nearly €153,000 annually, that is how much we (you and me as taxpayers) will save. Personnel on duty/resting off (barracks guard), aren’t able for other operational duties (eg ATCA/ATCP), training (courses or exercises), overseas etc. Less duties mean more time with the family but less in the pay packet.

It would of course have implications for the RDF.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 20:33
Debate continued..

Deputy Clare Daly:

I wish to share time with Deputy Mattie McGrath.

An Ceann Comhairle:

Is that agreed? Agreed. The Deputies have ten minutes between them.

Deputy Clare Daly:

There is no doubt that it is a little cynical of Fianna Fáil to table this motion and wax lyrical about the further closure of Army barracks when the party stood over the destruction of 11 barracks in the last decade of its reign. However, that is not an excuse to allow this Government to deflect attention from or escape responsibility for this serious attack. I oppose the closure of more Army barracks throughout the country.


I am from an Army background. I was reared beside the Curragh Camp and there is no question about the stimulus the Army provided to the local economy. It was absolutely vital and essential. It would be total lunacy on the part of this Government to ignore the role of the State in achieving balanced regional economic development, especially at a time of austerity and job losses. When many rural communities are being decimated in that regard, the role of the State is even more important. The towns involved are the towns where people bought homes for record prices during the boom. They are now in serious negative equity but they are shackled there through 30 and 40 year mortgages.


Another reason I consider this issue very serious is based on my experience of living beside areas where the closure of an Army barracks was handled poorly, particularly Magee Barracks in Kildare. It was closed over a decade ago but it has been an utter disaster. Closed without a plan, the barracks are lying derelict after being scavenged and looted. It is an eyesore for residents and a haven for anti-social behaviour. We must consider the current decision to close more barracks against the backdrop of our experience to date.


While it might have been possible to secure alternative viable uses for the barracks during the boom, those days are gone. These are potentially valuable State resources and nothing should be done to jeopardise them. There is no basis for an alternative use and no logic has been put forward to support that argument. Those facilities must be protected and the best way to do that is by maintaining them in use. The Government has not explained the purpose of its decision or the advantage in further closures. No evidence has been submitted.


The Government says this is not about reducing numbers in the Army, but one must seriously question that. It clearly will not improve morale or soldiers’ conditions. Instead, the 200 soldiers from Mullingar and the 140 from Cavan will be fighting with the ones who have already been transferred from Longford for accommodation in Athlone, even though the taxpayer has paid to upgrade the facilities, accommodation, roads, gymnasium and so forth in the facility from which they are moving. It is absolute lunacy. In addition, they will be forced to travel to Athlone each day when there is no viable bus service and against the backdrop of decimated pay and conditions on foot of the austerity that has been unleashed on public service workers.


Clearly, families will have to move out of the areas and towns in which they live. That will have a major impact on schools, local businesses and so forth. No viable reason been put forward, nor is there any identifiable alternative use. The only figure I have seen is a net saving of €200,000 in the case of Mullingar. That is a pittance; it would not even cover a banker’s bonus or offset the cost of securing the barracks. It is ludicrous. In fact, it will cost money. It will certainly cost the towns money and result in more jobs losses because personnel do not have the money to spend in the local economies. This lunacy must stop. The Government must see sense.


Our armed forces personnel need trade union rights. I salute the efforts of the Army wives who have highlighted this. I voted for an Army wife in the first election in which I voted. However, PDFORRA and the Army personnel should not have to rely on their spouses to articulate their cause. They deserve trade union rights so they can defend their jobs and conditions like every other worker.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

I am delighted to speak on this motion and I compliment my colleagues in Fianna Fáil on tabling it. I do not agree with the previous speaker that it is opportunistic. I welcome the Army personnel and their families from Columb Barracks who are in the Visitors Gallery. I understand some of their colleagues from Clonmel are expected to arrive as well.


I salute the previous Government. I had many difficulties with that Government but, in fairness, it protected the barracks it could protect. It certainly protected Kickham Barracks in Clonmel, south Tipperary, which I represent. I invited the former Ministers, Deputy Willie O’Dea and former Deputy Tony Killeen, to visit Kickham Barracks. They both visited the barracks to see what a wonderful institution it is. It is a fabulous facility. They met the personnel and saw its infrastructural impact on the town. It has an excellent location and has been there for hundreds of years.


There was a vague response last night from the Minister. It is a retrograde step that there is not a separate full Ministry for defence, with due respect to the Minister of State, Deputy Dinny McGinley. It was a bad move by the Government because it sends the wrong signal. Will we get rid of the Army altogether? Have we no interest in the Army? I have received many contacts from soldiers and their families in Kickham Barracks in Clonmel over recent weeks. Indeed, Deputy Troy raised the matter in a Topical Issue debate and he was told emphatically that there was no threat to the barracks. Since then, there have been many rumours and counter rumours.


I visited Kickham Barracks twice in the past two weeks. I called in last Monday and was instructed when I was leaving that I was not to call again without the permission of the Department of Defence. That is a retrograde step.

Deputy Dinny McGinley:

Security.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 20:34
Deputy Mattie McGrath:

Security is right. You will need security. Ministers will have to come out of their bunkers because they promised and attacked so much. My constituency colleague, Deputy Tom Hayes, was quoted in the local newspaper, The Nationalist, last week. He said the gloves are off as regards the Army barracks and that he would save it. Yesterday, however, he said he will not vote against the Government, regardless of what it closes.

Deputy Dinny McGinley:

I lost two barracks three years ago when Deputy O’Dea was Minister.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

I know. Can I continue without interruption? There was a reconfiguration in some places. However, there is a fine barracks in Donegal.

Deputy Dinny McGinley:

There are two, in Lifford and Rockhill.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

We also have one in Clonmel. The barracks in Cavan and Mullingar have people to fight on their behalf. The fight will continue because it is unfair to Army personnel, who are muzzled and not allowed to speak to anyone. I have been told I cannot visit the barracks without getting permission from the Department. If I wish to go to the officers’ mess to have some refreshments, will I have to ask the Minister for permission? This is outrageous.


Deputy Tom Hayes, in particular, attacked the Fianna Fáil Government in recent years over any whiff of a wind that something might close. He was quickly on his high horse to preach. He topped the poll because he preached all that doom and gloom. I call on him now to keep the gloves off, or has he any say with his Government? He did not get a position in the Government. He has been a good colleague of mine for years but I call on him now to assert himself and do the same as his colleague in County Roscommon, rather than talking about it and saying he is organising meetings with Ministers. We have not had a single meeting with a Minister since this Government was formed. Deputy Hayes told me once that he has sole responsibility for organising meetings with Ministers, so where is the meeting? I invited the Minister, Deputy Shatter, to come to Clonmel some months ago. He said he would consider it but he has not. I hope he will not make an announcement that the barracks will be closed because it is a wonderful institution and a valuable part of the infrastructure. It makes a huge contribution to the economy and to community life. A major flood relief project is under way currently. It was built and designed with the intention to provide assistance from the Army when there are flood warnings but it will be in Kilkenny, Cork or Limerick. It is a strategic location in the south east and a very valuable-----

Deputy Dinny McGinley:

Deputy Tom Hayes is on the way.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

He is always on the way. I welcome that but I call on him to be a man and to stand up for Tipperary South. He criticised me over the years and said I would not do things and that I huffed and puffed. However, we kept our hospital and many other services. From Tipperary Town to Carrick-on-Suir, there are threats to valuable projects, community facilities and HSE facilities. This is the latest threat.


There has been innuendo and talk and it is unfair to Army personnel and their wives and families. The wives met in Clonmel last night and I compliment them on that. It is unfair on the wives who have commitments on child care, schools and mortgages. They are not in a position to travel with their spouses to Limerick because it would not pay them. However, their spouses cannot refuse to go. I do not know what will happen. Perhaps Deputy Tom Hayes might provide a bus for them. I call on him to be a man. So many times in the past he has apologised to me and said that he would have to have a go at me over this or that. I said that was no problem and that he could have a go at me. I stand for Tipperary South. On the night of the count following the general election, he said he would not cause trouble and be like Mattie McGrath. I said I cause trouble when I have to in the interests of my electorate in Tipperary South. That is what I am elected to do and will continue to do. I call on Deputy Tom Hayes to be man and not a mouse and to stand up and be counted.

Deputy Anthony Lawlor:

I am delighted by the fighting spirit shown by Deputy Mattie McGrath. For a minute I thought he was an Army officer leading his troops into battle.


I have a great interest in history and one of the key dates I can recollect is 14 January 1922 when a decision was made by the people to accept the treaty negotiated by the great Michael Collins. On that day, many of the barracks occupied by the British Army were taken over by the young men of the Army of the Irish Free State. It is ironic that one member, the late President Éamon de Valera, decided he would not accept the democratic decision of the people.


I am proud to say I have great respect for the young men of the Irish Free State Army who stood by the democratic decision of the people. I have great respect for the young men of the Army who, when this country became a Republic, stood by the people of the Congo where some of them lost their lives. I also have great respect for and honour the people of the Army who served in Bosnia and Lebanon and who stood by the people there. I have no problem with the way they have defended democracy in various places around the world and along the Border here. A good friend of mine was badly injured on his way home from a barracks on the Border during the Troubles in the North of Ireland.


I come from County Kildare which is well known as having a close affinity with the Army. In 1813 a barracks was opened in Naas. That barracks no longer exists because it was closed in 1998 by a Fianna Fáil-led Government. In 1901 a barracks was rebuilt in Kildare but that barracks was closed by a Fianna Fáil-led Government in 1998.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 20:35
Deputy Seamus Healy:

We will stop Fine Gael as well.

Deputy Anthony Lawlor:

Is the Deputy Fianna Fáil?

Deputy Seamus Healy:

No. We stopped Fianna Fáil in 1998 and we will stop Fine Gael in 2011.

Deputy Anthony Lawlor:

The Army has become a modern, slim and trim fighting machine. It has been dealt budgetary cuts in recent years and the number of personnel in the Army has been reduced from 11,500 to 9,500. The Minister has made a commitment that the figure of 9,500 personnel will be maintained.


The hierarchy in the Army recognises that it is spread too thinly over the country. I asked an Army officer if he had a blank sheet and looked at the country, how many of the existing barracks would be there. He said many of them were not strategically placed and that the important thing was to locate barracks in areas in which they could be useful.


The decisions we must make are justifiable because we are living in straitened economic times. One must look at what the Army has done over the years spending wisely to modernise itself. I have total respect for the modern Army we have produced and I support the call that we make strategic decisions to maintain the figure of 9,500 personnel and ensure they have the equipment so that they can support the Government and carry out their peacekeeping duties.

Deputy Martin Heydon:

It is ironic that Fianna Fáil has tabled this motion on the closure of Army barracks when, in the best of economic times, Fianna Fáil-led Governments saw the closure of up to 11 barracks. Now that it is in opposition and we are in troublesome economic times, does it believe it made a mistake closing those barracks or what has changed?


We are living in very difficult economic times and tough decisions must be made. This Government will not shy away from making those decisions. I accept the need to rationalise and to trim down the number of barracks. We must look at where we came from. Barracks locations date back to a different era. Most of these barracks were built in the 1700s and the 1800s by the British to try to stem the rising tide of Irish freedom fighters. Thankfully, we live in a very different country today. Some of these barracks are no longer fit for purpose and the reason for their location is historical.


The most important thing is the numbers in the Defence Forces. As a Deputy for Kildare South, the Curragh is in my constituency and a large number of Defence Forces personnel are my constituents. I am all too aware of the issues affecting them. There is no greater issue than the number of Defence Forces personnel. If Fianna Fáil Deputies had the choice between the closure of some barracks or a reduction in the number of personnel, which would they choose? That is a very obvious question. I can only take from its motion that it would prefer to see a reduction in the number of Defence Forces personnel than see any barracks closed.


Our Defence Forces have enhanced our reputation internationally through their peacekeeping duties. They have the best reputation of any defence force in the world in carrying out those duties. That role must be maintained and protected where possible.


Another point which must be borne in mind in regard to barracks is that if we were to reduce the number of personnel as opposed to the number of barracks, that would result in the closure of barracks in time because one would not have enough personnel to maintain all of them. That would happen by default. Having said that, if barracks are to close, we need to be well organised and aware of the issues which will arise in certain locations.


In 1998 a previous Fianna Fáil-led Government closed Magee Barracks in Kildare Town. There have been difficulties with Magee Barracks. The reason it lies idle today is a long and protracted one and I will not go into the litany of failed policy decisions by the previous Government which has left this large site in the centre of a vibrant town surrounded by housing estates idle. However, we need to deal adequately with vacant barracks.


Magee Barracks has seen problems from anti-social behaviour, bonfires at night, vandalism, theft of lead off roofs, theft of manhole covers, the extraction of metal cables from the ground as well as fear and intimation among the families living adjacent to the site. The issue is one of policing. One cannot have a large site in the centre of a town and say it is enough to fence it off. I have raised the problems that affect Magee Barracks with the Minister and his departmental officials and I acknowledge the great lengths they have gone to in trying to address them. The gardaí in Kildare already have a lot on their plate and I urge the Minister to work with the Defence Forces to provide adequate patrols of the barracks and surrounding sites. The problems that have arisen for Magee Barracks are short term and will persist for the duration of the economic crisis. We need to put in place a system that ensure the protection of people who live beside vacant barracks until the economy recovers to the stage where a positive use can be found for these sites.


I continue to work with the Minister on recruiting personnel to offset the retirements and losses that will occur in the Defence Forces over the coming months. Our focus should be on protecting our fantastic Defence Forces.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 20:36
Deputy Nicky McFadden:

Since the foundation of the State, Fine Gael has been dedicated to the Defence Forces and our commitment will remain. As someone who comes from a garrison town, I am proud of the Defence Forces. I know first hand the contribution our personnel make to communities at local, national and international levels and their conduct as ambassadors abroad is second to none.


Last week, I visited soldiers from Athlone and Mullingar deployed with the UN in Lebanon. I attended a medal parade for the 104th Irish battalion at Camp Shamrock in Tibnin. The soldiers are drawn from the fourth western brigade and the Defence Forces training centre in the Curragh and are under the command of Lt. Col. Frank Bolger. They arrived in Lebanon in May 2011 and will rotate out at the end of November. I thank Lt. Col. Bolger for his kind invitation to attend the medal parade and the opportunity to visit the men and women who do us so proud. Morale was extremely high and they appreciate all the support they receive from their friends and family in Ireland.


Approximately 195 personnel, including officers, enlisted personnel and civilian employees, are stationed in Columb Barracks. The barracks houses the fourth field artillery regiment, which is an element of the fourth western brigade and the last artillery regiment in the State.


The primary objective for any barracks reorganisation or personnel redeployment is the efficient and effective delivery of military capabilities. The Government has not yet made a decision on the future of Columb Barracks.


The strength of the Permanent Defence Force has been reduced to the level of the 1970s due to the austerity measures initiated by the previous Government. Fianna Fáil Deputies appear to have forgotten the deadly legacy they left for this country. This conversation would not be taking place but for the actions required of us by the EU and the IMF. Nobody on the Opposition benches proposed constructive measures to improve our current situation. Fianna Fáil sold off our economic sovereignty and now it is irresponsibly introducing this Private Members’ motion. This is a legacy issue which arose during the term of the previous Government. The EU-IMF deal requires the State to achieve a budget deficit of 8.6% next year. This will involve cuts of at least €3.6 billion in the next budget, including up to €30 million in cuts from the Department of Defence.


Any action the Government takes is based on the ultimate objective of restoring our economic sovereignty and ensuring our future financial independence. I support the Minister for Defence in his aims of concentrating our investments in areas of the Defence Forces which are important to its operational and overseas capabilities and ensuring it is properly equipped and trained. I do not want to see a reduction in the strength of the Defence Forces below the current level of 9,559 personnel but we must consider every option for effecting savings and using our resources wisely. I want to see further recruitment in the future. Nobody wants to see barracks closures and I have every faith that the Minister’s decisions will be based on securing the long-term future of the Defence Forces. I fear, however, that we may spread our resources too thinly with the result that equipment and training will be insufficient to the tasks required from the members of the Defence Forces. We must prioritise our resources.

Deputy Ann Phelan:

Despite the obvious political opportunism attached to this motion on the reorganisation of our Defence Forces, I welcome the opportunity to speak about adverse effects which a downgrading of Stephens Barracks in Kilkenny will have on my constituents and the strategic position of the Army in the south east of Ireland.


The wind is gone from the sail of this motion because Fianna Fáil in Government consistently refused to give an absolute commitment on retaining specific barracks. This is a matter of public record and established practice. It supported the consolidation of Defence Forces units into a smaller number of locations as part of its objective of maximising efficiency. In January 2010, when it commenced the review of public service numbers under the employment control framework, it cast doubt on the future of a viable unit in Kilkenny. Taking note of the number of questions raised in the past by other Deputies, it is obvious that uncertainty has surrounded Stephens Barracks for a considerable period of time.


Now that the Chief of Staff has carried out a series of internal briefings in regard to decreasing the numbers in one infantry battalion in each of the three brigades, it is important that the Government remains aware of the need to maintain a regional balance in any agreed outcome. There are operational benefits in retaining a strategic regional Army presence in Kilkenny. I understand that the suggested consolidation plan will increase the numbers in two battalions and reduce numbers in the third. This will involve downgrading a battalion to a training unit with limited resources and scope.


The value of the Army’s civil support role was not fully appreciated until we experienced the severe weather conditions of recent winters. In January, the Army stood ready to provide vital assistance to the people of the south east during a national emergency that had not yet received an adequate response from the Government.



8 o’clock


Many of my constituents both in Carlow and Kilkenny, particularly those living in remote and upland areas, owe a great debt to the Defence Forces for their expertise and provision of specialist vehicles to local authorities and health and community care interests. I am aware of the vital emergency support role the Defence Forces played during the periods of bad weather in moving patients, medical staff and supplies where poor road conditions prevailed. It is no use telling a whole region that vital assistance is available elsewhere in Dublin, Cork or Limerick.


James Stephens Barracks in Kilkenny has provided steady employment to both military and civilian families alike. The city and county has lost a number of its high-profile, intensive industries in recent years. Any reduction in Army personnel will have a disproportionate effect on the lives and livelihoods of those in my constituency in a region that has the lowest per capita standard of living in the country.


As a component part of the First Southern Brigade, Kilkenny is rich in accommodation and ancillary facilities so that the financial challenge to meet expansion there is reduced. Critically, in these austere times, viability must be one of the principal considerations in any decision. It goes without saying that the rubber-stamping by this Government of recommendations by senior Defence Forces management must be based on the costs.


have set out my views based on two aspects of the motion. I have also set out clear reasons why colleagues who are not burdened with barracks closures in their constituency should support the viable and strategic regional retention of James Stephens Barracks in Kilkenny. I reject the motion because Fianna Fáil Members who are acting like prima donnas were responsible for the present difficulties.

Deputy Dominic Hannigan:

Hear, hear.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 20:36
Deputy Ann Phelan:

This small proud country that is struggling to maintain its sovereignty is playing a commendable role in international peacekeeping and deserves better than this cynical opportunistic motion.

Deputy Dominic Hannigan:

I thank the previous speaker for sharing her time with me so generously. I welcome the opportunity to speak tonight on this Private Members’ motion. I support the amendment tabled by the Minister for Defence. I know from my own county the importance of the role played by the Defence Forces when they are called upon to help in times of need.


The barracks of Gormanston is in County Meath. It is currently used as a training facility for the Defence Forces and it houses the Air Accident Investigation Unit. Its history up to now has been very different. In the 1920s it took on three different roles. First, it was the demobilisation centre for the Black and Tans. Then it was used by the Free State Army as an internment camp for republican prisoners. Up to 2,000 people were held there until the late 1920s. It later became the transport headquarters for the Army. When the Troubles began in the late 1960s the camp was used to house refugees from Belfast who had fled south. At various times there were between 200 and 300 people there. Eventually it became the transition stop as refugees were moved on to Wicklow and Cork. At those times the camp played an important role, and it still does today. It is a role that is universally respected.


Last night the Fianna Fáil backbenchers spoke about the respect that society has for the Defence Forces. I know about that respect because I hear it from my constituents who see the great work the Army did, particularly in recent times when we had very inclement weather last winter. Residents of Ashbourne, Dunboyne and Stamullen were stuck during the cold weather but they managed to get to work and get their children to school because of the hard work of the Defence Forces at the time.


I am also aware of the respect other countries have for our Defence Forces. When I was the Labour Party spokesperson on defence in the Seanad I spoke about the respect the Defence Forces command when they serve abroad in peacekeeping missions in such places as Lebanon and Chad. This motion is not about respect. It is a return to the politics that Deputy Micheál Martin said he would leave behind him. It is not constructive opposition; it is playing local politics in the national Chamber. This is not the time for flippant Private Members’ motions, it is a time for the Parliament to focus on restoring our economic sovereignty, which Fianna Fáil signed away. Perhaps what is more cynical is that the motion ignores completely the previous decisions made by the Fianna Fáil Government.

Deputy Dara Calleary:

Deputy Hannigan should read the motion.

Deputy Dominic Hannigan:

There seems to be a collective amnesia not just among older Deputies but among new Deputies as well about exactly what Fianna Fáil did in the previous Government. It is as if they have joined a different party. One Deputy said last night that he carries no torch for the previous Administration.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

The Deputy should speak through the Chair please.

Deputy Dominic Hannigan:

I remind Fianna Fáil Deputies, old and new, that since 1998 ten barracks have been closed by Fianna Fáil. I also remind them that in the budget of 2009 they voted for the closure of four barracks in places such as Monaghan, Lifford, Longford and Letterkenny. In the motion before us tonight Fianna Fáil confirms that as a result of previous consolidation and investment no further closure of Army barracks is necessary.

Deputy Barry Cowen:

Exactly.

Deputy Dominic Hannigan:

That is not what the previous Minister for Defence, Mr. Tony Killeen, said one year ago last week. He said that any properties that are considered surplus to military requirements will be disposed of. A year later in October 2011 Fianna Fáil is condemning the Minister’s refusal to rule out the closure of any Army barracks throughout the country regardless of their integral role in the local area. Just one year ago in October 2010 the Minister said the dispersal of personnel over an extended number of locations is a major impediment to essential collective training. It will take more than a year for people to forget about the damage that Fianna Fáil has done not just to this country but to the Army.

Deputy Barry Cowen:

It will take them less than six months to cop on to the Government.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

What about all the U-turns?

Deputy Dominic Hannigan:

Members of the Opposition proposed this motion to try to embarrass the Government but they have really ended up embarrassing themselves because the motion is cynical and is creating unnecessary fears among local communities.

Deputy Dara Calleary:

The Deputy’s colleagues are doing that.

Deputy Dominic Hannigan:

It does nothing to support the Defence Forces. It is the type of politics that will not get us out of the problems we are in.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 20:37
Deputy Seamus Healy:

What about the Minister of State who said it was crass stupidity to close the barracks in Mullingar?

Deputy Tom Hayes:

I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak on the motion on an issue that is important to many people in my constituency. In recent weeks I have received countless telephone calls and e-mails on this matter. It is an issue that dominates my work at present and will continue to do so until a final decision is reached.


For the record, I am opposed to the possible closure of Kickham Barracks in Clonmel. I have conveyed that to the Minister. My opposition is not simply based on the financial impact on the town but also because of the rich military tradition that exists in Clonmel, which is a source of great pride in my constituency. The service of the men and women in the barracks is something of which we can be proud. Some of my colleagues have mentioned that they met with the military families. I am pleased to say that I have also met some of them and listened to their cases. I look forward to meeting more of them at a public meeting in Clonmel on Monday night.


We often thank those in the Defence Forces for their service, rightly so, but I also thank the families - husbands, wives, sons and daughters that often say goodbye to loved ones for months at a time as they represent this country overseas. I would like to reassure those families that they too are in my thoughts with regard to this matter. I hope to be able to address some of their concerns in the coming weeks.


I have already stated publicly that I will support the Government on this matter, although that may not be popular with many people in my constituency. I was elected to not only represent my constituency but to get work done on rebuilding the country, to bring people back to work, to stop the high levels of emigration and the flight from our country that is taking place. I will not be swayed by political stunts, such as the one on display in the House tonight and last night, with such a serious topic currently in discussion with the Department as well as at Cabinet.


What I find so disappointing about the motion is not the issue itself but its use by the Opposition for publicity and self-promotion on local radio and in local newspapers.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

Deputy Hayes was good at that himself. That rings hollow.

Deputy Tom Hayes:

This motion is grounded entirely in politics. It appears that after years of irresponsible leadership and poor decision making, Fianna Fáil has yet to return to reality. Given the financial burden placed on the Government and the people, as well as a loss of economic sovereignty, every Department has been placed under severe pressure.


I agree with the Minister that our priority must be to maintain the current numbers of military personnel serving in the Defence Forces. We are already back to the 1970 levels but it is my belief that to maintain our current commitment overseas we must not reduce military numbers any further, and I am glad that the Minister is not doing that. However, importantly, the overall operations of the Defence Forces can only be decided by senior military commanders in consultation with the Department of Defence. They are the ones best positioned to advise on decisions such as these. All I would ask is that the Minister takes into account the enormous impact the Defence Forces have in Clonmel and south Tipperary, and that they consider the financial effect such a closure would have on the many local businesses, not alone in Clonmel but throughout Tipperary. I will continue to fight for these people and their communities.


I finish by thanking the Defence Forces for their great commitment to the country. I hope the Minister listens to the plea I have made tonight. I am glad a decision has not been made and that it will take some time for a decision to be made on the issue.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

The surgical gloves are still on.

Deputy Robert Troy:

I thank my colleague for bringing this Private Members’ business before the House this evening.


I am deeply saddened that the Government’s actions have warranted this motion. I take no pleasure in speaking on this tonight, but I do so in the best interests of the Army personnel working in Columb barracks, their families and the business community of Mullingar and in the interests of the public purse.


I acknowledge those who have travelled from Mullingar tonight: family and friends of Army personnel, IUNVA - Post 20, ex-Army personnel, members of the business community and local councillors - Collentine, Glynn, Penrose and Dollard.


Both Government and Opposition are at one when we speak of the pride we have in the men and women who serve in the Defence Forces. These men and women have instilled pride in their families, communities, counties and country.


I ask the Government Members tonight, if no decision has been made, why have so many Deputies come out giving excuses about why closures are needed. Last night, and in recent days, Ministers accused us of typical opportunistic opposition, but what else would they say? Do the same Ministers accuse themselves or their party colleagues of having opportunistic agendas? I saw no politician from any party speaking in favour of the closure or downgrading of Columb Barracks at the protest meeting last week, that is, those of us who turned up to it. Anyone who knows me and who has worked with me as a councillor for seven years on Westmeath County Council will know that I have always worked constructively with all members across all parties in the interests of the county and would be one of the less partisan politicians in the county. Since Fianna Fáil was soundly defeated in the last general election, we have not engaged in opportunistic opposition, as some would lead one to believe. In fact, we have supported the Government on various legislative issues since then - 11 out of 15. Is that the record of an opportunistic Opposition?

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 20:38
It was senior Army personnel, who are directly responsible to the Minister for Defence, who visited the barracks in question announcing impending closures. It was they who generated the anxiety and fear all concerned.


Since then, and previously, I along with my colleagues have tried to get answers from the Minister, but he has treated us with contempt and, in doing so, has so treated the people we represent. He refuses to outline his proposals despite the fact that the Department has completed the value for money review. He also declined my invitation to visit this barracks - another insult to the personnel. The past three Ministers visited Columb Barracks and confirmed its future on each occasion.


In our motion, we acknowledged that the previous Government engaged in consolidation of Army barracks but we feel that the process is complete if we are to maintain the Defence Forces at the current level of 9,500.


Columb Barracks can trace its history back almost 200 years. It is the home of the 4th Field Artillery Regiment and also acts as a headquarters of the Reserve Defence Force and the 54th Regiment. 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. It acts as a staging post for all our overseas and UN-based operations. Currently, there are more than 200 serving personnel based in the barracks along with 20 highly-skilled civilian staff.


I will point out a few reasons Columb Barracks should not close. On costs, there is no economic gain. This decision, according to a more senior politician than I, is crass stupidity and economic lunacy. There would be immediate costs involved in transferring and redeploying the 200 troops current based there. There is no spare capacity in other locations in the command area and closing Columb Barracks would involve building new facilities in another location.


The closure of Columb Barracks would result in a net loss of approximately €8 million to the local economy at a time when local businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to survive and are getting no support from the Government. The Government opposes reforming rates and only last week the controlling parties on Westmeath County Council voted against proposals by the chamber of commerce on modifying parking charges to help the traders.


There has been a close historical connection between the town and the Defence Forces. The troops in Columb Barracks provide important local supports to the community.


Recruitment to the PDF and RDF is highest in areas where there is an Army barracks. Closing Columb Barracks would diminish local recruitment. Maybe this is part of the Government’s plan.


The convenient location of Defence Forces is critical in time of emergency. We saw at first hand over the past two winters just how critical it was to have them on board.


Mr. Declan Power, an independent security consultant, was quoted last week in the local Westmeath Topic, which reported:




“There seems to be no strategy”, he said. “I think the Government are more concerned about the optics of being seen to close things. But I ask, where is the common sense to satisfy such optics?”



He pointed out that Columb Barracks has undergone a costly revamp in recent years.


Last night the one of the reasons the Ministers used for closing the barracks was that we did so in the past, and he commended the previous Government on doing so. While I appreciate the new Government has adopted many of the previous Government’s economic policies, there is no need to adopt consolidation of the Defence Forces.


My constituency colleague described the decision to close Connolly Barracks as a “shameful and ill-thought out decision”. Does he now think the same of Columb Barracks? I sincerely hope he does because three years after the closure of the Connolly Barracks, it still remains unsold, derelict in the heart of Longford town. Only last week the Minister for Defence refused to sign over the barracks to the local authority. He expects the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to pay the Department of Defence, bearing in mind that all moneys come from the Department of Finance.


Members of the Government like to blame the EU-IMF deal for further closures while at the same time claim any moneys raised will be re-invested in the Defence Forces. Other Members claim that there is no economic gain by closing the Army barracks. Why then would the EU-IMF be interested? The EU-IMF has set a target of 8.6% of GDP by 2012 which, incidentally, is something on which we agree. However, how that is achieved is by making choices. The Government did this when it chose to introduce the pension levy. It chose to spare the cuts when it appointed its own advisers without paying any heed to the cap. The cost of special advisers to senior Ministers far exceeds the €300,000 that will allegedly be saved at Columb Barracks.


I am aware of the difficult job facing the Government. That is why we have pledged to be constructive in opposition. Tonight is not about party politics; it is about the future of these barracks and the integral role they play in local communities and economies. A dark cloud is hanging over the future of these barracks and the Minister for Defence is the only person who can lift it. I ask him to listen to his Cabinet colleague who continues to support the retention of the barracks. No further consolidation should be announced. I ask the Government to be upfront and honest with the people, as it pledged it would be in February this year, and to remove the uncertainty

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

Hear, hear.

Deputy Robert Troy:

The Government should clearly outline its plans for these barracks. People’s lives are at risk. They do not know what to do or how to plan for the future. The only ones who can remove that uncertainty are the members of the Government.

Deputy John McGuinness:

The motion before the House is neither cynical nor opportunistic. It is clear from the contributions to the debate that Deputies on all sides of the House were anxious to air their views on the importance of the Defence Forces and the barracks situated around the country. They have done so with passion. I commend Deputy Troy for his speech in defence of his own area, the local barracks and the Defence Forces in general. His appeal to the Minister to use common sense was well founded. I encourage the Minister to take on board the views of Opposition and Government Members. I appreciate that Deputies on the other side of the House can defeat the motion if they wish.


The Defence Forces have served the country well. I commend the 3rd Infantry Battalion which is based at James Stephens Barracks in Kilkenny for the contribution it has made to the locality. I wish the Officer Commanding, Lieutenant Philip Brennan, well in heading up a 100-man unit that is going to serve overseas. The unit will play the leading role in the project in matters such as transport and medical services, etc. It shows the value of the Defence Forces’ operations abroad and the value of James Stephens Barracks as part of the Army infrastructure throughout the country.


I acknowledge the work of previous Ministers. I was Mayor of Kilkenny in 1996 when James Stephens Barracks was threatened once again. The local story is that the barracks seems to be mentioned whenever barracks closures are threatened. Contrary to what has been said, the Fianna Fáil Minister for Defence at the time made it perfectly clear to the local community in Carlow and Kilkenny and the surrounding counties that James Stephens Barracks would not be closed. It did not close at the time, when Fianna Fáil was in government, despite all the political nonsense and noise to the effect that it would.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 20:38
The number of personnel serving at James Stephen Barracks has continued to grow, despite the wrong and misleading commentary of a number of years ago. The number in service at the barracks is 270. Over €2 million was invested in the 14-acre site in recent times. Rather than considering the closure of the barracks, the Government should look at the services provided for the local community at the Garda and Army barracks. Perhaps some of the difficulties being experienced at the Garda barracks might be dealt with. James Stephens Barracks could be used to house a special Garda unit that is seeking a home. Perhaps they could be used beyond the Army, within the tightened resources and moneys available.


The Minister could easily increase the number of Defence Forces personnel serving at James Stephens Barracks. He could easily utilise to a greater degree the 14 acres available to him, for example, by facilitating the extension of the services provided from the existing Garda barracks on the other side of our growing city. I repeat that James Stephens Barracks could house the special Garda unit that has been designated for Kilkenny. It is a question of building on the investment made in the Army and the investment the Army has made in local communities, not just in Kilkenny but in every part of the country. Members of the House have spoken about exactly what has been done in the barracks in their local areas. They have emphasised the esteem in which Army personnel are so dearly held in each of these areas.


I note that some members of Óglaigh na hÉireann are present. Having served their time in the Army, they are here to support the force and ensure no further reduction in numbers is made. It is essential that the infrastructure is firmly protected for the future. The Minister needs to play a role in that regard. As a constructive Opposition party, we will work with the Minister and the Government in drawing up the budgets necessary to ensure the country’s future. Certain values need to be reflected in what we are doing. Every time we impose a cut, we make a statement. We should not make a statement by reducing the number of Army personnel or infrastructure. We can make a brave statement by supporting those who have supported us at home and abroad.

Deputy John Browne:

I would like to share some of my time with Deputy Healy-Rae.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy John Browne:

The debate in the House over the last two nights has exercised the minds of Deputies on all sides. I have noticed that very few Labour Party Deputies came into the House last night and tonight. Perhaps that, in itself, is a good sign. I know some of them are unhappy about the decision that may be taken by the Fine Gael-Labour Party coalition. I am sure they will use all their power at the Cabinet table to ensure the mass closure of barracks that the Minister is allegedly planning does not happen. One of the problems with this debate is that we are operating in a vacuum to an extent. There has been much talk about the closure of barracks. Last night the Minister did not say how many, if any, will be closed, or if they are all going to close. This is totally unfair on the Defence Forces and the communities in which barracks are located. The Minister should set out clearly what he intends to do. If he intends to impose closures, he should explain how he will bring them about.


I am not very good at reading the computer, but I looked today at the manifestos published by the Labour Party and Fine Gael before this year’s general election. Nothing in the documentation suggested Army barracks would be closed. I wonder, given that they have changed their minds and broken their promises in so many other areas, whether they intend to do likewise in this respect. The Fine Gael manifesto included very little about the Defence Forces. The Labour Party manifesto stated:




Labour will publish a White Paper on the Defence Forces setting out our vision for the Defence Forces to 2020. This will include a strategy to restore the strength of the Defence Forces to 10,500 members. Such a paper will also consider what the appropriate role for PDFORRA might be within the wider Trade Union movement.



It is obvious that the Labour Party was making plans for the future of the Defence Forces. I suggest its Deputies should have come to the House to spell out where they stand on this issue.


We all proudly acknowledge the participation of the Army in peace missions across the world. Those who have served are held in high regard. We must also recognise the substantial contribution of the Defence Forces to the security of the State during the years. During my life in politics, I have seen the great work carried out by the Defence Forces in times of need, including during fire brigade strikes and flooding problems. During all of the snow and the resulting emergencies last winter, we saw at first hand the work and support given by the Defence Forces, including to nurses and doctors in making sure valuable medical and food services were provided to people in need.


We need to recognise this role. Army personnel are not just based in Army barracks as they also make a valuable contribution to communities throughout the country. We must also remember the role they played during the violence in Northern Ireland, when they risked life and limb on Border duty in protecting the State from subversives and illegal organisations.


Of course, Fianna Fáil must acknowledge that it closed some barracks. However, the money from this was used to revamp the Defence Forces, in particular to upgrade and reinvest in equipment and to upgrade remaining barracks. Some €84.98 million was realised from the sale of barracks in the recent past and directing this funding to the upgrading of equipment proved very important, given some equipment was obsolete and in need of replacement. That money was wisely spent and the reinvestment was critical in raising the standard of equipment and facilities used by the Defence Forces from what was considered to be a position below international standards. If we are to be involved in peacekeeping efforts throughout the world, it is only right that the Defence Forces would have the proper, state-of-the-art equipment that is necessary.


The Reserve Defence Force also underwent a systematic overhaul and re-branding. The recommendations of the Reserve Defence Force Review Implementation Board in 2004 set out very clearly a series of measures to ensure the development of the future operations of the reserve forces and, in 2004 and 2005, working groups in this area also made strong recommendations.


Deputy Troy referred to value for money. The Minister should make public the value for money audit that was carried out, if one was carried out. If so, it should be made available to PDFORRA and to this House. When we carry out financial reviews, the reports that result are very important. It is very easy to take into account the money saved through the closure of barracks but what about the loss to the communities and the effect it will have on them? The soldiers and their families are an essential part of the local economy in the towns in which they are located.


I support Deputy McGuinness in regard to the James Stephens Barracks in Kilkenny. Many soldiers and members of the Defence Forces operating there are from my own county of Wexford and some have contacted me in recent weeks to express serious concern about the downgrading of this barracks.


I understand the Minister of State, Deputy Kehoe, attended the PDFORRA conference today and I am sure he heard of the difficulties and problems it would have with the closure of barracks, in particular in regard to recruitment. I did not agree with the outgoing Fianna Fáil Minister in regard to putting a ban on recruitment to the Army. I am sure many young people from County Wexford attend the office of the Minister of State, Deputy Kehoe. If they are on jobseeker’s benefit, we are paying such people €200 a week if they are single and nearly €500 a week if they are married with two children. Many of these people want to get into the Army or be involved in the Defence Forces. We should seriously consider recruitment for the future. It is not good enough to have young people walking the streets when, for very little extra money, they could be training in the Defence Forces and doing something worthwhile for their country.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 20:39
Deputy Michael Healy-Rae:

I thank Deputy John Browne for affording me the opportunity to speak on this important issue and for sharing time. I acknowledge the presence of the Government Chief Whip, the Minister of State, Deputy Paul Kehoe, and thank him for the work he has done in the past. I also acknowledge the people from Columb Barracks in Mullingar and those who travelled from Clonmel and Cavan. I welcome them in a very special way and I respect the fact of each of them have travelled here today to support us in what we are trying to achieve.


I wish to support the motion opposing the proposed closure of a number of key Army barracks throughout the country and to condemn the Minister’s refusal to avail of the opportunity to rule out the closure of any Army barracks, despite the massive boost to the local economy they generate in the towns in which they are based. With regard to Dún Uí Néill Barracks in County Cavan, I want to acknowledge the man who brought the barracks to that town in the first place, namely, the late, great Mr. John Wilson, a highly respected and respectable politician and public representative who worked very hard for many years. I can only imagine how he would feel if he were here to see this debate taking place and to see a Minister refusing to acknowledge the possible severity of the implications of these actions.


We are proud of both current and past members of our armed forces for the courage and respectability they have portrayed while abroad, and for their unwavering dedication to the people here at home. During times of trouble and strife in particular, the Army could always be relied upon to work hard on behalf of all the people.


If barracks were to be closed, I believe those who assert that no money would be saved and that the opposite could occur. When it comes to closing any facility, we have to learn from and remember our past mistakes, for example, when our sugar beet factories were closed down and we found out a short time later that they never should have been allowed to close and that there was no justification in closing them. Rather than closing the barracks, we should consider imaginative and creative ways of utilising them for further good purposes. One idea is the encouraging of the Reserve Defence Force to recruit more young people by utilising these barracks for training grounds and facilities.


I also wish to condemn wholeheartedly any proposed gradual closure of barracks through the reduction of the number of personnel stationed in them. The Government must ensure it maximises the use and effectiveness of the Defence Forces in a way that involves them in the communities where the barracks are based. Surely the Minister recognises that the closure of any Army barracks will tear the heart and soul out of the communities where they are based. Many small shops, pubs, restaurants and other businesses are highly dependent on the economic support the barracks and their personnel provide. I repeat that it will cost the Government more money if it goes ahead with closures as the knock-on effect to local businesses could result in forcing employees out of gainful employment and onto the ever-increasing social welfare queues.


Since the recent discussions on this subject have become public, families of Army and civil personnel are suffering greatly because of the uncertainty of what is proposed. I call on the Minister not to fudge this issue but to make clear statements of intent and stop hiding behind waffle and bluster.


I do not like referring to a Minister when he is not in the Chamber but I will do so as I am not to blame that he is not present. Last week, the Minister virtually sneered at me and a colleague of mine when we raised the issue of the closure of rural Garda stations. I can tell the Minister that comments he may have considered smart did not go down well with members of the Garda or the public in general. Obviously, people in rural Ireland were outraged by his glib response. Will he try to do tonight what he did last week, namely, place the blame for his actions at the feet of a former Member of this House? I emphasise he singled out one Member and he certainly did not show himself in a good light last week by attacking a former Member of Dáil Éireann.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

Hear, hear.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae:

The Minister’s performance last week left much to be desired and he certainly let himself down. I hope he will do better with this issue and in this debate. I remind the Minister - I hope someone will pass on this message to him - that despite his long years of service in this House, he must serve many more years in Dáil Éireann before achieving politically the same amount achieved for his constituency and constituents by the Member he condemned last week.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

Hear, hear.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

I ask the Deputy to conclude.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae:

Finally, I ask for common sense to prevail tonight and for the barracks to remain open. Overall, it would save money to do so and would be the sound, prudent and sensibly politically correct thing to do.

Deputy Minister of State at the Department of Defence ( Paul Kehoe:

I remind Deputy Healy-Rae that his own father voted with the Government to close the sugar beet factories a number of years ago. This is a bit rich coming from him.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae:

That also is a fairly poor response from the Chief Whip.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

Since going into opposition, Members on the other side of the House are continuing with their long tradition-----

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae:

That is as bad as the man last week.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

Order.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

-----of trying to be all things to all people.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

Order.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

They either will not, or lack the capability, to face up to the facts and to be honest with people.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

The Minister of State does not know what that is.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

Their stance on barracks consolidation is no different. Given the desperate financial state of this country, which the Government inherited from Fianna Fáil-----

Deputy John Browne:

The Minister of State is in government now.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

-----choices must made, most of which will be hard choices, as to how the Government prioritises in this regard.

Deputy Robert Troy:

That is it. The Government can prioritise and it will be its choices.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

The Government has choices.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 20:41
Deputy Paul Kehoe:

Thanks to Fianna Fáil and its reckless handling of the economy, as well as its failure to capitalise on the benefits of the Celtic tiger years, Government expenditure in all areas must be reduced and substantially so in many areas. Consequently, instead of looking at areas of the Defence Forces in which to make worthwhile investments that would in turn improve and be of benefit to the Defence Forces and our international standing, the Government is forced into a position of making hard and difficult choices. Whatever stance Members on the other side of the House wish to adopt in this debate, the issue really is about using taxpayers’ money in the most effective way and in a productive way-----

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

But last January, so doing was wrong.

Deputy John Browne:

Why did the Minister of State not say this six months ago?

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

-----rather than squandering it like the previous Government did for many years. This is taxpayers’ money-----

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

We know that.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

This is money the Government will respect and will spend wisely.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

Yes, on advisers.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

This is purely a parochial game which simultaneously ignores the national requirement. The Government will not continue the Fianna Fáil habit of wasting taxpayers’ money. Rather, its aim is to use that money to get the best possible return for the country as a whole.


Barracks consolidation is not an easy matter to deal with and there is no point in saying otherwise. However, it is an issue that must be faced up to and it will be extremely difficult for the Government to ensure the Defence Forces are allowed to manage their resources to the full, as well as to properly equip and train them to meet their roles. In this context, tying up substantial numbers of personnel in barracks-related duties and having small numbers of units and personnel spread out across the country in a large number of barracks will not allow this. Were Members on the other side of the House being honest, they also would admit this. As the Minister stated last night, were Fianna Fáil to have its way, the country would be left with an unsustainable number of poorly maintained barracks with little or no modern equipment.

Deputy John Browne:

We introduced all the new equipment.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

If I wished, I could quote at length this evening from statements made by Fianna Fáil Ministers for Defence on the benefits to the Defence Forces of barracks closures but I will not. However, I will list the barracks closed by Fianna Fáil-led Governments over the last 11 years.

Deputy John Browne:

We invested the money wisely.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

Ballincollig Barracks, County Cork, was closed by a Fianna Fáil Government in 1998. Fermoy Barracks, County Cork, was closed by a Fianna Fáil Government in 1998.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

Address the future.

Deputy John Browne:

What about Dún Uí Néill Barracks, Cavan? What about Stephens Barracks?

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

Devoy Barracks, County Kildare, was closed by a Fianna Fáil Government in 1998.

Deputy Barry Cowen:

What about the only barracks that was ever built by this State?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

Order, please.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

Magee Barracks, County Kildare, was closed by a Fianna Fáil Government in 1998.

Deputy John Browne:

Think of Vinegar Hill.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

Castleblayney Barracks, County Monaghan, was closed by a Fianna Fáil Government in 1998.

Deputy Barry Cowen:

What else happened in ‘98?

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

Clancy Barracks, Dublin, was closed by a Fianna Fáil Government in 1998.

Deputy John Browne:

The Minister of State should announce the ones that will be closed next week and the week after.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

Order, please.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

Think of the future.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

Monaghan Barracks was closed by a Fianna Fáil Government in 2009. Lifford Barracks, County Donegal, was closed by a Fianna Fáil Government in 2009.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

Think of the future.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

Longford Barracks was closed by a Fianna Fáil Government in 2009 and Rockhill House, Letterkenny, County Donegal, was closed by a Fianna Fáil Government in 2009.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

The Minister of State is living in the past.

Deputy John Browne:

What about the ones that will close in the future?

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

Fianna Fáil Members opposite are experts on closing Army barracks.

Deputy Robert Troy:

Will the Government close Columb Barracks, Mullingar?

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae:

It would make a lot of sense-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

Order, please.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

Deputy Mattie McGrath referred to the Government performing U-turns.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

Yes, it gave commitments.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

Deputy McGrath did so many U-turns himself when he was on this side of the House he was spinning around on the bench.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

We kept the barracks in Clonmel.


(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

Order.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

The transformation of Sinn Féin is absolutely outstanding.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

The Minister of State is on a spin.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

Last night in the Chamber, I was absolutely astounded. Not so long ago, Sinn Féin refused to recognise the Irish Army in this State.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

Is the Minister of State going to do another tweet?

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

I am delighted Sinn Féin finally has admitted there is one true republican Army, Óglaigh na hÉireann, and that is in this State, which Sinn Féin refused to recognise for years. I refer to the hypocrisy of Sinn Féin Members talking about barracks closures last night in the Chamber. I will not go as far as I would wish in this regard or will not say it in the Chamber.

Deputy Jonathan O’Brien:

Say it.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae:

The Minister of State will tweet it.

Deputy Barry Cowen:

As the Minister has privilege, he should go ahead.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

It was absolutely outstanding and unbelievable. As for Deputy Healy-Rae, his father-----

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

The Minister of State should mind his manners.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

I am sorry, Minister of State, please-----

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

Deputy Healy-Rae-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

The Minister of State should resume his seat. Everyone should note I want some silence for the speaker.

Deputy John Browne:

The Minister of State’s time is over.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

The Minister of State should conclude his remarks as we must move on to the next speaker.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

I remind Deputy Healy-Rae that on previous occasions, his father walked up those steps and turned left-----

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae:

The best the Minister of State can do is talk about a man who has retired-----

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

-----in voting with the Government.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

Please.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae:

-----from politics as a respectable politician. How dare the Minister of State?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

Deputy, stop.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

It was Deputy Healy-Rae’s father, as well as Deputy Mattie McGrath-----

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae:

The Minister of State should have a small bit of manners in this House.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

-----who held up that Government for years-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

Order please.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae:

Have a bit of respect.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

-----which now has the country in economic ruin.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

Minister, please.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

It is because the country is in economic ruin-----

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae:

Have a small bit of respect.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

-----that the Government must take the actions it will be obliged to take in the future.

Deputies:

Hear, hear.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 20:41
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

I now call Deputy Cowen, who has five minutes. I ask for silence for the speakers, for whom time is limited, please.

Deputy Barry Cowen:

I support the motion tabled by Deputy Calleary. It recognises that soldiers and their families are an essential and integral part of their local economy. Moreover, their facilities are shared by many of their communities. Apart from their conventional role, the Defence Forces are critical in times of emergency to counteract adverse weather, disease and so on. It goes without saying that Members owe a debt of gratitude to the Defence Forces for the goodwill they have afforded the country while on peacekeeping duties abroad. The debate last night and again just now has been amazing. The Minister and his colleagues have deployed the usual tactic to which Members have become accustomed in the past six months. It is the usual mantra and battle-cry that it is not the Government’s fault but that it was walked into it.

Deputy Ray Butler:

The Deputy is dead right.


(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

Order, please.

Deputy Patrick O’Donovan:

Fianna Fáil has no shame at all.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

Deputies, please.

Deputy Barry Cowen:

The main thrust of that hypocrisy is that Fianna Fáil is being hypocritical in respect of barracks closure. The motion itself acknowledges that Fianna Fáil closed barracks. It recognises “the consolidation of Army barracks over the past number of years due to the changed security situation in Northern Ireland and the consequent reinvestment of those funds” to modernise the Defence Forces. Fianna Fáil acknowledges the previous Government made hard choices, delivered difficult budgets and passed severe Finance Acts. Moreover, it was not done in the interests of Fianna Fáil but in the interests of the country. Fianna Fáil Members, more than Members opposite, know what culpability is about. More than most, they are aware of the political consequences and it is high time Members opposite began to see that and recognise that as it approaches.


(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

Order, please.

Deputy Barry Cowen:

This week, the Central Bank produced reasonable figures. I refer to slightly better unemployment figures, a small degree of growth in the economy and better economic projections. Why is this? As the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, said, the Government has implemented last year’s budget and Finance Act. However, he does not tell too many people how vehemently he and his colleagues opposed the Finance Bill and the four-year plan. The Government wants it both ways. It wants two jerseys to be on both teams. It speaks out both sides of its mouth.

Deputy Ann Phelan:

No, we do not.

Deputy Barry Cowen:

It is coming to an end and Government has only a short while to wait because the reviews of the Departments are complete - they have not been published and will not be published.

Deputy Ann Phelan:

They will be published.

Deputy Barry Cowen:

However, it will need to make a few choices apart from these. It will need to bring in its own budget and make its own decisions, which will not be popular and will fly in the face of all the populist commitments Government Members made when they were going around the country in February. We will see then what they are made of. They were elected in such numbers.

Deputy Brendan Griffin:

That says something, does it not?

Deputy Barry Cowen:

They will tell the people that things were not as they thought they were.

Deputy Patrick O’Donovan:

The IMF is not coming. Does the Deputy remember who said that?

Deputy Barry Cowen:

Even though the books were made available and the Ministers, Deputies Noonan and Burton, reviewed them, they will tell the people they were bound by the IMF and EU agreement despite having promised to turn it upside down. They will say they were hamstrung by the memoranda of agreement.


(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

Order.

Deputy Barry Cowen:

However, they are not set in stone. The Minister for Finance says he got no extra revenue, but he came back flying the flag after saving €1 billion from the rate reduction achieved by accident rather than design. The Government will not give that to Mullingar, Kilkenny or Clonmel. In essence those of us on this side of the House can look forward to various acts of humility around the country when Government Members go back to Mullingar, Cavan, Kilkenny and Clonmel-----

Deputy Paudie Coffey:

Fianna Fáil let the IMF in through the backdoor and did not tell the truth.

Deputy Barry Cowen:

-----and tell the people there how they committed to keep Army barracks in February, but could not stand by them here tonight. One Minister described this proposal as crass stupidity and I could not agree with him more along with many others here. We will see what they are made of when they go to Cabinet next Tuesday and he is left on his own. I wonder why the Labour benches are empty tonight.

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 20:42
Deputy Niall Collins:

I welcome the opportunity to take part in this lively debate. For my part and on behalf of the people I represent I acknowledge the very fine work done my members of the Defence Forces over generations since the foundation of the State. We all owe them a great debt of gratitude. That unites all of us in this House because we have a common purpose in what they serve and what we serve in representing them. Internationally on their foreign missions, for example with the UN in Lebanon and our missions to Chad they have done outstanding work. We should take every opportunity to highlight that they have done us all proud.


They have supported many voluntary groups and organisations locally. They helped out at the time of the big freeze and when we had flooding. Regarding community events, they will attend country fairs and markets when asked. When they are requested they always show up. They are an integral part of the fabric of our society and we need to have an honest debate about the future of our Defence Forces, which has been lacking. The comprehensive spending review which has been under way for some months has been mentioned. Last week during Leaders’ Questions and on the Order of Business we heard that the review will not be published, which is a disgrace. If decisions are to be taken about the future of our Army personnel and their families based on a comprehensive spending review, that information should be published and we should all have the opportunity to have an informed debate rather than the ding-dong of who closed what and when over the years. That does not do the people who are in the Visitors Gallery any good nor does it do any good for members of the Defence Forces or their families.


When Army barracks are closed we continue to own those barracks and we still need to pay the personnel. We need to maintain the buildings, and pay for insurance and other overheads. What is to be achieved by closing Army barracks and transferring the personnel? The local communities will suffer a loss of business and commerce. The entire fabric of the local community will be affected right down to the schools. It will lead to upheaval for families. If internal military briefings are taking place highlighting that people will need to be moved, lifestyle choices will be taken without people being informed as to the basis upon which those decisions should be taken, which is wrong in anybody’s language. Decisions should be taken in an open and transparent fashion with people fully informed.


I want to mention Sarsfield Barracks in Limerick city. I ask the Minister of State present tonight whether the future of those barracks is guaranteed. While it is not in my constituency, but in the neighbouring constituency of Limerick City, I represent many of the personnel who serve there and their family members who live in my constituency.


While we are discussing barracks, what is the position on Garda barracks? We have heard much of Garda stations tonight. I could list the places in my constituency affected, including Murroe, Doon, Cappamore, Croom and Askeaton. I have read newspaper reports of Fine Gael local authority members rightly making the case as to why they should be kept open. We need an open and transparent debate on that matter also.


People are saying this debate is cynical and opportunist, which I resent. It is our duty as it was the duty of Government Members when they were on this side of the House. They raised issues of public importance and of concern to the citizens, which is exactly what we are doing here tonight as we are duty bound to do. It is a disgrace for them to say we are being cynical and opportunist. The people in the Visitor’s Gallery have listened to the Minister of State say we are being opportunist and populist, which is a disgrace and he should withdraw those remarks.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

We did not bring the country to economic ruin as Fianna Fáil did.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

Please, Minister.

Deputy Sean Fleming:

I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate. It was inevitable that we would have such a debate very early in the lifetime of the Government. After the false promises of the general election when the people were sold a pup, the parties negotiated the programme for Government. On the first day of new Dáil and the formation of the Government for the first time in the history of the State we got a Government without a Minister for Defence. We have a Minister for Justice and Equality who does the job of Minister for Defence in his spare time.

Deputy Mattie McGrath:

He is not here.

Deputy Sean Fleming:

That showed the priorities of the Government party leaders on the day the Government was formed. It showed what they thought of the Defence Forces. If anybody has any doubt about the barracks we have discussed, every other town, city and locality with military barracks-----

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

Our Minister has a more proactive approach to defence than any Fianna Fáil Minister ever had.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

Order.

Deputy Sean Fleming:

-----is facing the same because they do not have a full-rank Minister at the Cabinet table with sole responsibility for the Department of Defence. This is coming home to roost now. I want to talk about the Minister with responsibility for this area. He was in the House last week talking about Garda stations. He said that Garda buildings did not matter. He is embarking on a programme to close Garda stations; he has commenced a process to close Army barracks and he has already closed several courthouses around the country in his few months in office. For example, during the summer recess he announced through a sly press release that the courthouse in Portarlington in my constituency was to close. He is closing courthouses, Garda stations and Army barracks, and he will close more. The Defence Forces better watch out.


As has been well rehearsed, we all know there is no economic sense in this. There are no savings on staff - there are additional staff costs because they need to be relocated. There is maintenance of the old buildings which cannot be sold in theses economic times. If property was sold during the good economic times, we might have got value for the taxpayer, but the taxpayer will get no value from selling any of these properties. They will need to be protected from vandalism and some of the new barracks into which people will move will need to be upgraded. To facilitate the new staff coming in and for health and safety reasons they will need to be brought up to a higher standard. While there are no barracks in my constituency I am very proud of and happy with the work the Army do on the security of Portlaoise prison.


The Government is hiding behind the EU and IMF on this matter. There is nothing in that deal about closing Army barracks as everybody on the Government side knows. The Government has used the EU and IMF deal for every harsh decision it has had to make. However, it was able to make several decisions that were not contained in that EU and IMF deal.



9 o’clock


It brought in a pension levy and robbed the pensioners of their money. It introduced an insurance levy last week to bail out Quinn Insurance. That was not in the IMF deal. Ministers claimed they would cut the airport travel tax, yet that was not in the IMF deal. They closed Roscommon hospital and that was not in the IMF deal.

Deputy Derek Keating:

Roscommon hospital was not closed.

Deputy Sean Fleming:

This Government is not committed to the Defence Forces, and it showed that on its first day in office by not appointing a Minister for Defence. Its members will rue the day and this will haunt them for the lifetime of this Government.

REX
6th October 2011, 20:55
When Lifford, Rockhill, Monaghan and Longford were closed, 595 personnel were moved to 3 different locations. The move meant that new buildings were required in Finner, Dundalk and Athlone – that meant an investment in the economy of € 2.5 million in capital expenditure (that went towards paying peoples wages and keeping businesses open). The cost of transport and temporary storage was € 0.55 million. I have no idea if there is room in Athlone but most barracks have buildings that aren’t used?! All that is required is office space, training rooms, gun park. Plus maybe transit and/or SLI accomodiation, locker space, more ablutions etc.

According to AA Ireland, Mullingar to Athlone only takes 48 minutes, not a long commute. Do all the soldiers spend all their money in Mullingar? If they aren’t from Mullingar, the chances are the only money they spend in the local economy is on lunch. If they have to commute from Mullingar to Athlone, they will be putting more money into the economy as they will have to buy petrol, get the car serviced etc etc. That would minimally effect families, it will make a difference but it could be worse (Cavan to Athlone is 79 minutes).

It would take 26 minutes extra (according to AA Ireland) from Athlone to the Glen (for shoots) but it would only be a few times a year.

More civilian employees may be required in Athlone but I can see them being made redundant unfortually.

From Dail statements we can see that for a major unit (battalion/regimental size) the actual strength is very small. That means a relatively large percentage of personnel will be either on duty or resting off at any one time. Closing a barracks will mean less personnel are required to look after the logs admin of the barracks (eg catering, ration stores, utilities etc etc). We both know the approx number of personnel involved in guard duty. If you work it out, the saving on SDA alone is nearly €153,000 annually, that is how much we (you and me as taxpayers) will save. Personnel on duty/resting off (barracks guard), aren’t able for other operational duties (eg ATCA/ATCP), training (courses or exercises), overseas etc. Less duties mean more time with the family but less in the pay packet.

It would of course have implications for the RDF.

Obviously you're a government minister spouting the party line. all this will do is force people like myself to either leave the army or live in near poverty. It's not just about the time, for me up and down to Athlone from Mullingar was costing 70euro per week (Cavan to Athlone works out at about 158euro/week) back when petrol was 135/litre, but of course that was back when i could afford to run 2 cars, but those days are long gone already.

Now i'd need to buy another car, tax it and insure it, I'd be very surprised if it comes in at less than 100 /week, an economic impossibility. So what to do? Go on my pension?

If you compare what i would get in pension to what i get paid weekly into my hand there is less than 200euro difference, so effectively thats what it costs the army for an experienced HGV Maint Technician.

If i leave they have to pay my pension and it takes 4 years to train a replacement, at an approx cost of 250,000euro the last time the training cost was calculated, and that's just one person, never mind that it has taken nearly 3 years to build accom for the personnell moved to Athlone in 2009, at god knows what cost.

As for your assertion that every Bks has a few unused buildings knocking around, it's very obviously been a long time since you crossed the Shannon to Custume Bks, it's wedged, even half the square has been covered with storage tents and vehicle parking.

I deal with a lot of young soldiers, who are on quite a bit less per week than I am, they mostly bought their homes in the last years of the boom, so they are paying huge mortgages from rapidly diminishing wages, without the option of going on the pension, and unable to sell their homes and move to Athlone because of crippling Negative Equity

Several young soldiers in Bks are Already on Family Income Suppliment, because after paying the mortgage there is quite literally nothing left, so who's going to pay for them to drive to Athlone? YOU ARE! Travel costs for work are deducted from your income when calculating household income for FIS, where's the saving there? you're just moving the problem on

Suicide in the DF usually runs at approx 4/year in line with the national average, we had 7 to the end of Sept, it's not hard to speculate as to possible causes?

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 20:57
Amendment put:


The Dáil divided: Tá, 94; Níl, 44.





Barry, Tom.

Breen, Pat.

Broughan, Thomas P.

Bruton, Richard.

Burton, Joan.

Butler, Ray.

Buttimer, Jerry.

Byrne, Catherine.

Byrne, Eric.

Carey, Joe.

Coffey, Paudie.

Collins, Áine.

Conaghan, Michael.

Conlan, Seán.

Connaughton, Paul J.

Conway, Ciara.

Coonan, Noel.

Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.

Costello, Joe.

Coveney, Simon.

Creed, Michael.

Daly, Jim.

Deasy, John.

Deenihan, Jimmy.

Deering, Pat.

Doherty, Regina.

Donohoe, Paschal.

Dowds, Robert.

Doyle, Andrew.

Durkan, Bernard J.

English, Damien.

Farrell, Alan.

Feighan, Frank.

Ferris, Anne.

Fitzpatrick, Peter.

Gilmore, Eamon.

Griffin, Brendan.

Hannigan, Dominic.

Harrington, Noel.

Harris, Simon.

Hayes, Brian.

Hayes, Tom.

Heydon, Martin.

Howlin, Brendan.

Humphreys, Heather.

Humphreys, Kevin.

Keating, Derek.

Kehoe, Paul.

Kelly, Alan.

Kenny, Seán.

Kyne, Seán.

Lawlor, Anthony.

Lynch, Ciarán.

Lynch, Kathleen.

Lyons, John.

McCarthy, Michael.

McEntee, Shane.

McFadden, Nicky.

McGinley, Dinny.

McLoughlin, Tony.

Maloney, Eamonn.

Mathews, Peter.

Mitchell, Olivia.

Mitchell O’Connor, Mary.

Mulherin, Michelle.

Murphy, Dara.

Murphy, Eoghan.

Nash, Gerald.

Naughten, Denis.

Neville, Dan.

Nolan, Derek.

Noonan, Michael.

Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.

O’Donnell, Kieran.

O’Donovan, Patrick.

O’Dowd, Fergus.

O’Mahony, John.

O’Reilly, Joe.

O’Sullivan, Jan.

Phelan, Ann.

Rabbitte, Pat.

Reilly, James.

Ring, Michael.

Ryan, Brendan.

Sherlock, Sean.

Shortall, Róisín.

Stagg, Emmet.

Stanton, David.

Timmins, Billy.

Tuffy, Joanna.

Twomey, Liam.

Wall, Jack.

Walsh, Brian.

White, Alex.


Níl



Adams, Gerry.

Browne, John.

Calleary, Dara.

Collins, Niall.

Colreavy, Michael.

Cowen, Barry.

Crowe, Seán.

Daly, Clare.

Doherty, Pearse.

Dooley, Timmy.

Ellis, Dessie.

Ferris, Martin.

Flanagan, Luke ‘Ming’.

Fleming, Sean.

Fleming, Tom.

Halligan, John.

Healy, Seamus.

Healy-Rae, Michael.

Kelleher, Billy.

Kirk, Seamus.

Kitt, Michael P.

Lowry, Michael.

Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.

McConalogue, Charlie.

McDonald, Mary Lou.

McGrath, Finian.

McGrath, Mattie.

McGrath, Michael.

McGuinness, John.

McLellan, Sandra.

Moynihan, Michael.

Murphy, Catherine.

Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.

Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.

Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.

O’Brien, Jonathan.

O’Dea, Willie.

O’Sullivan, Maureen.

Ross, Shane.

Smith, Brendan.

Stanley, Brian.

Tóibín, Peadar.

Troy, Robert.

Wallace, Mick.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seán Ó Fearghaíl.


Amendment declared carried.


Question put: “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”


The Dáil divided: Tá, 92; Níl, 44.







Barry, Tom.
Breen, Pat.
Broughan, Thomas P.
Bruton, Richard.
Burton, Joan.
Butler, Ray.
Buttimer, Jerry.
Byrne, Catherine.
Byrne, Eric.
Carey, Joe.
Coffey, Paudie.
Collins, Áine.
Conaghan, Michael.
Conlan, Seán.
Connaughton, Paul J.
Conway, Ciara.
Coonan, Noel.
Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
Coveney, Simon.
Creed, Michael.
Daly, Jim.
Deasy, John.
Deenihan, Jimmy.
Deering, Pat.
Doherty, Regina.
Donohoe, Paschal.
Dowds, Robert.
Doyle, Andrew.
Durkan, Bernard J.
English, Damien.
Farrell, Alan.
Feighan, Frank.
Ferris, Anne.
Fitzpatrick, Peter.
Gilmore, Eamon.
Griffin, Brendan.
Hannigan, Dominic.
Harrington, Noel.
Harris, Simon.
Hayes, Brian.
Hayes, Tom.
Heydon, Martin.
Howlin, Brendan.
Humphreys, Heather.
Humphreys, Kevin.
Keating, Derek.
Kehoe, Paul.
Kelly, Alan.
Kenny, Seán.
Kyne, Seán.
Lawlor, Anthony.
Lynch, Ciarán.
Lynch, Kathleen.
Lyons, John.
McCarthy, Michael.
McEntee, Shane.
McFadden, Nicky.
McGinley, Dinny.
McLoughlin, Tony.
Maloney, Eamonn.
Mathews, Peter.
Mitchell, Olivia.
Mitchell O’Connor, Mary.
Mulherin, Michelle.
Murphy, Dara.
Murphy, Eoghan.
Nash, Gerald.
Neville, Dan.
Nolan, Derek.
Noonan, Michael.
Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
O’Donnell, Kieran.
O’Donovan, Patrick.
O’Dowd, Fergus.
O’Mahony, John.
O’Reilly, Joe.
O’Sullivan, Jan.
Phelan, Ann.
Rabbitte, Pat.
Reilly, James.
Ring, Michael.
Ryan, Brendan.
Sherlock, Sean.
Shortall, Róisín.
Stagg, Emmet.
Stanton, David.
Timmins, Billy.
Tuffy, Joanna.
Twomey, Liam.
Wall, Jack.
Walsh, Brian.
White, Alex.



Níl
Adams, Gerry.
Browne, John.
Calleary, Dara.
Collins, Niall.
Colreavy, Michael.
Cowen, Barry.
Crowe, Seán.
Daly, Clare.
Doherty, Pearse.
Dooley, Timmy.
Ellis, Dessie.
Ferris, Martin.
Flanagan, Luke ‘Ming’.
Fleming, Sean.
Fleming, Tom.
Halligan, John.
Healy, Seamus.
Healy-Rae, Michael.
Kelleher, Billy.
Kirk, Seamus.
Kitt, Michael P.
Lowry, Michael.
Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
McConalogue, Charlie.
McDonald, Mary Lou.
McGrath, Finian.
McGrath, Mattie.
McGrath, Michael.
McGuinness, John.
McLellan, Sandra.
Moynihan, Michael.
Murphy, Catherine.
Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
O’Brien, Jonathan.
O’Dea, Willie.
O’Sullivan, Maureen.
Ross, Shane.
Smith, Brendan.
Stanley, Brian.
Tóibín, Peadar.
Troy, Robert.
Wallace, Mick.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seán Ó Fearghaíl.


Question declared carried.

DeV
6th October 2011, 22:46
Obviously you're a government minister spouting the party line. all this will do is force people like myself to either leave the army or live in near poverty. It's not just about the time, for me up and down to Athlone from Mullingar was costing 70euro per week (Cavan to Athlone works out at about 158euro/week) back when petrol was 135/litre, but of course that was back when i could afford to run 2 cars, but those days are long gone already.

Now i'd need to buy another car, tax it and insure it, I'd be very surprised if it comes in at less than 100 /week, an economic impossibility. So what to do? Go on my pension?

If you compare what i would get in pension to what i get paid weekly into my hand there is less than 200euro difference, so effectively thats what it costs the army for an experienced HGV Maint Technician.

If i leave they have to pay my pension and it takes 4 years to train a replacement, at an approx cost of 250,000euro the last time the training cost was calculated, and that's just one person, never mind that it has taken nearly 3 years to build accom for the personnell moved to Athlone in 2009, at god knows what cost.

As for your assertion that every Bks has a few unused buildings knocking around, it's very obviously been a long time since you crossed the Shannon to Custume Bks, it's wedged, even half the square has been covered with storage tents and vehicle parking.

I deal with a lot of young soldiers, who are on quite a bit less per week than I am, they mostly bought their homes in the last years of the boom, so they are paying huge mortgages from rapidly diminishing wages, without the option of going on the pension, and unable to sell their homes and move to Athlone because of crippling Negative Equity

Several young soldiers in Bks are Already on Family Income Suppliment, because after paying the mortgage there is quite literally nothing left, so who's going to pay for them to drive to Athlone? YOU ARE! Travel costs for work are deducted from your income when calculating household income for FIS, where's the saving there? you're just moving the problem on

Suicide in the DF usually runs at approx 4/year in line with the national average, we had 7 to the end of Sept, it's not hard to speculate as to possible causes?

If I was on half the money a Minister is on, I'd be an extremely rich man! I'm about to start a new job and finally after 6 years experience I'm going to be on something approaching the average industrial wage.

Financing and transport is an issue (maybe the DF could look at providing transport for a time?) but your car tax, insurance, fuel, servicing etc is supporting the local and national economy.

Loosing people due to retirement is costly with regard to paying the pension, training replacements etc etc but 20-50 years down the road it will be cheaper due to the contracts.

The facilities need to be put in place while/before the changes happen. I've never been in Custume (or Columb) so I don't know. But I've been in CBB, McKee, Gormo, Aiken, Stephens, the Curragh, Kilbride, Coolmoney and Clonmel (off the top of my head) every single one of them has/had buildings that could have been refurbished to make space if necessary. I'm sure there is at least one building that could be refurbished/knocked in Custume?

Soldiers are probably paying their own FIS with the USC, Public Pension levy, reduced tax credits etc etc. No one forced anyone to buy houses.

DeV
6th October 2011, 22:53
Lets face it if you take it from purely a military point of view, never mind the economics or personal feelings, it makes sense to centralise units as much as possible. It makes the unit far more efficient and effective!

This should have been done in the good times!

I'd be in two minds to be honest about closing Columb due to the fact that it is a major unit, IMHO:

- Clonmel should be closed and personnel moved to Limerick (if no space there maybe Kilworth)

- Cavan should be closed and personnel moved to Athlone (if no space there maybe Columb)

- Kilkenny should be closely looked at to see if it would be more effective to move the personnel to Curragh (but that is a different brigade area - otherwise maybe Clonmel)

Goldie fish
6th October 2011, 22:56
The croke park agreement set up a situation where any public sector worker can be transferred to any location within a 30 mile radius of his normal residence.
This came as a shock to a colleague of mine, who was moved from our cork office to an external office(15 miles), only to discover that the external office also covered location x, 70 miles away, and as location x, along with the external office, was his normal place of work, once a week, he was not entitled to claim expenses for the extra commute.

The joe duffy crowd will say "so what, at least you still have a job".

REX
6th October 2011, 23:21
[QUOTE=DeV;351395]

I'd be in two minds to be honest about closing Columb due to the fact that it is a major unit, IMHO:

- Clonmel should be closed and personnel moved to Limerick (if no space there maybe Kilworth)

- Cavan should be closed and personnel moved to Columb (if no space there maybe Columb)


The whole point is that Columb Bks has lots of space and recently renovated accomodation, they could have sent lonford here without building anything but the DF bosses are determined to use the current financial crisi to push through there 2 bde agenda, under the auspices of cost saving, even though the cost to build in Athlone will be considerable, if you can find space.

The west is the most widely spread bde geagraphically, and with a large portion of the border to cover. After losing 3 bks in 2009 it's time to trim the fat elsewhere. And i don't mean in the DF, over the last 15 years we have been the model of reform at a time when the Public Service was bloating, we reduced numbers and locations, the only part of the public service to do so, Big Mistake!!!

We should have been spreading out like a cancer, draining the public coffers, then if we made small changes we could jump up and down shouting "look at us we're great", unfortunately due to our previous financial and organisational reform there is nothing left to give.

When other branches of the Public Service can show then same rate of cuts as we have had over the last 10 years, then, by all means come back to the DF

goc132
6th October 2011, 23:53
Mullingar for the safety is more valuable than Athlone.
Knock out two road bridges and a railway bridge and the troops in athlone are stranded and we dont have the air power to move them

danno
6th October 2011, 23:56
Mullingar for the safety is more valuable than Athlone.
Knock out two road bridges and a railway bridge and the troops in athlone are stranded and we dont have the air power to move them

Couldn't they be ferried over ,lots of boats about,improvise ...etc

terrier
7th October 2011, 02:03
I would have thought that a small army, not equiped to fight large conventional battles, would in it's role of defending the state against aggression be better in its current disposition than consolidated ? Or is that too simplistic ?

Victor
7th October 2011, 03:27
Mullingar for the safety is more valuable than Athlone.
Knock out two road bridges and a railway bridge and the troops in athlone are stranded and we dont have the air power to move themMy sarcasm meter is twitching.


I would have thought that a small army, not equiped to fight large conventional battles, would in it's role of defending the state against aggression be better in its current disposition than consolidated ? Or is that too simplistic ?What threats are you expecting?

Lets not have delusions here, all one has to do to render Ireland militarily ineffective is to target the stores in the Curragh and the armouries in the various barracks.

DeV
7th October 2011, 09:01
The croke park agreement set up a situation where any public sector worker can be transferred to any location within a 30 mile radius of his normal residence.
This came as a shock to a colleague of mine, who was moved from our cork office to an external office(15 miles), only to discover that the external office also covered location x, 70 miles away, and as location x, along with the external office, was his normal place of work, once a week, he was not entitled to claim expenses for the extra commute.

The joe duffy crowd will say "so what, at least you still have a job". What was the regulations with regard to the DF? Go were the GOC posts you?


The whole point is that Columb Bks has lots of space and recently renovated accomodation, they could have sent lonford here without building anything but the DF bosses are determined to use the current financial crisi to push through there 2 bde agenda, under the auspices of cost saving, even though the cost to build in Athlone will be considerable, if you can find space.



If the space is there, close Cavan and move the personnel there to Columb. From what I've seen of the ECF, 2 brigades isn't the current plan.





The west is the most widely spread bde geagraphically, and with a large portion of the border to cover. After losing 3 bks in 2009 it's time to trim the fat elsewhere. And i don't mean in the DF, over the last 15 years we have been the model of reform at a time when the Public Service was bloating, we reduced numbers and locations, the only part of the public service to do so, Big Mistake!!!

We have been the model of reform (but the budget went up?).

Having a company sized unit on its own makes all the admin and logs (for the Coy commander and the unit commander (and their staffs)) much more difficult, there was an article in An Cosantoir a while back (think it was about Lifford) that said at one point they were that short of personnel they had to move weapons to another barracks!!!:8(

The reason the West has seen more barracks closures than elsewhere is that they had more barracks than elsewhere. Prior to 1969, there was no barracks north of a line from Gormo to Mullingar to Galway. In the age of the Good Friday Agreement (I know they are still there but compared to the 80s and 90s it doesn't compare), modern helicopter and modern transport fleets, the dispersion along the border isn't required.

Lets look at the barracks that closed between 1996 and now:
Fermoy (South) - had a coy sized PDF unit
Clancy (East) - I think this was a coy sized PDF unit
Monaghan (East) - had a coy sized PDF unit
Castleblaney (East) - had a coy sized PDF unit
Naas (Curragh) - was AAS
Kildare (Curragh) - had a regimental sized PDF unit (I think)
Ballincollig (South) - had a regimental sized PDF unit
Longford (West) - had a coy sized PDF unit
Lifford (West) - had a coy sized PDF unit
Rockhill (West) - had a coy sized PDF unit

The trend and need is to close the coy sized barracks.

This has left 4 barracks in the South (Clonmel not having a major unit & Kilkenny having a major unit minus), 4 barracks in the East (Gormo not having a major unit but it does have a number of ranges), that leaves the West. The West has 5 barracks (Cavan not having a major unit).







We should have been spreading out like a cancer, draining the public coffers, then if we made small changes we could jump up and down shouting "look at us we're great", unfortunately due to our previous financial and organisational reform there is nothing left to give.

When other branches of the Public Service can show then same rate of cuts as we have had over the last 10 years, then, by all means come back to the DF The DF budget went up when times were good and there was massive investment in the DF, you can't say there wasn't. Unfortually the DF has always been an easy target for cuts. But if there is fat in any agency/department it should be cut IMHO.













I would have thought that a small army, not equiped to fight large conventional battles, would in it's role of defending the state against aggression be better in its current disposition than consolidated ? Or is that too simplistic ?

If the threat increased the DF could be easily dispersed, if the threat is serious you won't want to be in a barracks at all.

ollie
7th October 2011, 09:28
As mentioned both Kilkenny and Columb barracks are home to less than 300 pers and very rarely would there be even close to that number parading on a daily basis. Surely such barracks are unsustainable and regardless of local sentiment and pressure the only consideration should be the further consolidation and improvement of the DF as a whole.

Kieran Marum
7th October 2011, 10:18
Answers in DAIL 4th October 2011

499. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Defence his immediate and medium-term plans for Dun Uí Neill Army Barracks, Cavan; his plans for this facility should it close; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27143/11]

500. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Defence his immediate and medium-term plans for Columb Barracks, Mullingar, County Westmeath; his plans for this facility for should it close; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27144/11]

504. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Defence his plans for Kickham Barracks, Clonmel, County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27173/11]

505. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Defence the date on which he will announce further barracks closures. [27230/11]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): I propose to take Questions Nos. 499, 500, 504 and 505 together.

As of now, no decision has been made by the Government on the future of any military installation. The issue of the closure of barracks no longer required for operational reasons to effect necessary savings will, however, be considered shortly by Government. Various commissions, reports and studies back to the 1990s identified barrack closures as a fundamental requirement towards improving military effectiveness and efficiency. Since 1998 a total of ten barracks have been closed under two barrack consolidation programmes. A total of €84.98 million has been realised from the disposal of six of these barracks and part of another. The moneys received from the sales of such properties have been reinvested in equipment and infrastructure for the Defence Forces.

I wish to ensure that all decisions made and resources utilised are focused on maximizing the capabilities of the Defence Forces and ensuring their continued operational excellence. I am also anxious to ensure, in so far as is possible, that the Government is not compelled by fiscal and budgetary constraints to effect any substantial reduction in the current number of personnel in the Defence Forces.

Rhodes
7th October 2011, 11:54
It makes no sense that the Government are closing functioning permanent military posts that operate 24/7/365 and aren't touching rented RDF property and barracks with no permanent units based in them that are only being used for two hours per week.

REX
7th October 2011, 12:08
It makes no sense that the Government are closing functioning permanent military posts that operate 24/7/365 and aren't touching rented RDF property and barracks with no permanent units based in them that are only being use for two hours per week.

Prepare for counter-battery fire:biggrin:

Goldie fish
7th October 2011, 12:11
It makes no sense that the Government are closing functioning permanent military posts that operate 24/7/365 and aren't touching rented RDF property and barracks with no permanent units based in them that are only being use for two hours per week.

But they are. Most of the rented properties were returned 2 years ago. PQs have repeatedly shown how few rented properties remain, and the low amount they are costing the state to keep. There are very few RDF only buildings left since 2009, most have been consolidated to single buildings, whose use is shared with other government agencies, such as civil defence or Gardai. However there are still a few pointless outposts, where small pdf cadres continue to pretend to soldier, far away from anything resembling the tool of their trade, a firearm.
Tralee comes to mind.

luchi
7th October 2011, 12:34
It makes no sense that the Government are closing functioning permanent military posts that operate 24/7/365 and aren't touching rented RDF property and barracks with no permanent units based in them that are only being use for two hours per week.

Firstly I have to agree that renting property for the RDF is senceless.

But as for the closing down of Bks I am not so sure.

We no longer have a situation where those serving in a Bks either live in or live near enough that they either walk or cycle to work.
People in modern Ireland often travel over an hour to work. Which in many cases is a distance of 80km or more.
It is hard then to claim the DF need a bks in every corner of the country. Mullingar to the Curragh is 70km vis Edenderry of 90km via Tullamore.
to Athlone is 50-60km depending on route and Dublin is 80km.
These in modern times are all commuter distances.

We are not in a situation that calls for the deployment of arty resources in the midlands so why have them there?

So in the current socio-economic climate how can we justify keeping all but a few strategic locations open. What was strategic 20-30 years ago is not necessarily strategic today.
Jusr as one mans view would differ from another.

Leave Trelee alone. We love to go there for FTT:biggrin::biggrin:
Although Mullingar is a good spot too!!!

DeV
7th October 2011, 13:40
We are not in a situation that calls for the deployment of arty resources in the midlands so why have them there?
Eh with their parent brigade!

apod
7th October 2011, 14:03
No one forced anyone to buy houses.

Right.Provide me and my family with a married quarter comparable to the modest house i live in now.Oh,thats right the DF cant as they are all gone.
Perhaps soldiers should all live in army tents with their families or better still all soldiers should remain single and never have families so they can be all SLI.:rolleyes::mad:

I and my colleagues pay a Pension levy for a non contributory pension also.We also pay PAYE tax.So does that mean we are paying our own wages???

apod
7th October 2011, 14:06
It makes no sense that the Government are closing functioning permanent military posts that operate 24/7/365 and aren't touching rented RDF property and barracks with no permanent units based in them that are only being use for two hours per week.

+1.Close all the RDF "posts".Move all Cadre back into manned Bks.Have one Training weekend a month.Lose the one transit per Coy.Lose the Rural rate of RDF allowance.
savings all round.

REX
7th October 2011, 14:24
We no longer have a situation where those serving in a Bks either live in or live near enough that they either walk or cycle to work.in is 80km.[luchi]

About 70% of mullingar personnell live in the town and, with the cuts in pay wiping out the ability to afford an unessecary second vehicle, a large proportion of us walk or cycle into work

[luchi]These in modern times are all commuter distances.

Even if you could afford to use public transport it's not much good if you have an 0500hrs escort, or finish at 2300 on a driving detail

People seem to choose to forget that Private soldiers don't come near the average wage of 687.24/week with 31 hours payable hours (CSO Figures 2011)

464.78 is the wage of a private up to 0-3 years service, after which there is a gradual rise topping out at 602 and a few cent after 6 years service. thats it, no more increments even if you serve 30 years (which by the way is only possible if you reach the rank of Sgt Major), these figures are for those who joined after Janurary 2011, and are 10% less than those in service before that date.

Hardly the riches that the papers would have you believe the public Service get. Yes there are some huge figures being paid, just not to the ones doing the work in the DF.

And a 31 hour week is a luxury that most soldiers could not even dream about

hptmurphy
7th October 2011, 15:18
The croke park agreement set up a situation where any public sector worker can be transferred to any location within a 30 mile radius of his normal residence

Clonmel is not within a thirty mile radius of anywhere except Kilworth which is not a manned post but a training facility.

Why is Kilkenny more viable than Clonmel..one word..Minister.....you won't lose a barracks when the minister depends on the vote of the people based there.Clonmel and South Tipp hasn't one TD wqith any political clout.

Mattie McGrath is a mouth piece, Seamus Healy has never been allowed inside the Bks....

Kilkenny will be allowed to exist as along with St. Lukes hospital they are the only major employers in the city.

Clonmel on the other hand has some quite significant industries and the knock on ripple effect of 180 + soldiers being transferred will not be as critical as anywhere else.

Clonmel success in other areas is the death knell of the barracks.

I travel a considerable distance to work every day and appreciate the impact it has on my pocket plus the lenght of the working day.

One grave reservation comes to mind about a guy living any hours or more drive from work...24 hr duties.....driving long distances is not acceptable.

ZULU
7th October 2011, 15:57
464.78 is the wage of a private up to 0-3 years service, after which there is a gradual rise topping out at 602 and a few cent after 6 years service.



€464.78 is the same as an honours Graduate is likely to receive

€602 is the same as what a Degree/Masters graduate with 6 - 9 years experience is likely to be paid.

Its hardly rich on both sides of the fence

Rhodes
7th October 2011, 16:13
Clonmel is not within a thirty mile radius of anywhere except Kilworth which is not a manned post but a training facility.

Under the Croke Park Agreement DF personel can be sent anywhere within their brigade no matter what distance.


Why is Kilkenny more viable than Clonmel.

Kilkenny is used for a role due to its location, but I cant disuse that on here.

hptmurphy
7th October 2011, 17:30
Kilkenny is used for a role due to its location, but I cant disuse that on here.

I know, but things can change, nothing is set in stone.


Under the Croke Park Agreement DF personel can be sent anywhere within their brigade no matter what distance

Why were the DF treated any differnt to any other public sector workers?

Rhodes
7th October 2011, 17:50
I know, but things can change, nothing is set in stone.

Its unlikely any changes will be made to that role.


Why were the DF treated any differnt to any other public sector workers?

Garda also have a separate agreement.

danno
7th October 2011, 20:12
There is something systemically wrong with the DoF if the closing of functioning barracks is a panacea to money problems.
To be objective about it obselete facilities should be either closed or allocated proper resouces.
However every barracks/facility should be rated under agreed criteria before any decisions are made.

hptmurphy
8th October 2011, 00:13
There is something systemically wrong with the DoF if the closing of functioning barracks is a panacea to money problems.
To be objective about it obselete facilities should be either closed or allocated proper resouces.
However every barracks/facility should be rated under agreed criteria before any decisions are made

Theroetically it is a serious problem but given the locations were decided at the start of the emergencey and Most barracks are based at certain locations because of decisions made 60 years ago for reasons which have no bearing on Irelands infrastructure today there is credible logic in revisiting the justification of Bks. Clonmel and Kilkenny being specific in this, the thirty mile rule where no permenatly manned post would be located closer that 30 miles from the port in case on invaison, as they could be neutralized and the port rendered useless, Kilkenny and Clonmel's primary existence was based on this and they were protecting the port of Waterford, hence the existence of these installations, Dungarvan and Youghal also came under Clonmels protectorate,the fact they have survived this long is an anomaly given the DF's unwillingness to review the continued existence of the locations over the years,

Understanding the historical reasons for the continued existence of such post's is important. Apart from the socio economic impact there is not strategic reason to hold about 75% of manned posts available to day.


One in each province is enough, may be one in the capital, and everything else goes to the curragh, but the army has to assign it next generation of people to these locations as opposed to keeping smaller loactions open by drip feeding bodies into them.

Whats the primary problem.

Our accomadation problem within the DF as whole is wrong......married quarters with extended tenure which were secod rate council houses, no MLO accom in most places and the quality being shite.....the DFgot it so wrong and thats why we have Soldiers living out of Bks in private houses they can't move from without significant loss,

Whose fault the army.....should have been made clear that the army would be rotational and investing in property shouldn't be accepted as tenure at a location, buy your home for your retirement but withing your service . Rockall to ****all could be your post!,,,,Army got it wrong from the word go!

And guys accepted that got on with the job in fixed locations and settled down.Nice touch, but only army in the world to work that way!

Lead to believe army won't supply transport for the next round of displaced....

Goldie fish
8th October 2011, 00:20
I was sure that there was a stipulation in the terms of service that a soldier will serve wherever the minister sees fit, anywhere in the Country?
I heard of a Local Garda who was recently promoted, would be in his early 50s, kids in secondary, college etc, He is promoted to a station 100 miles from his current location.

Suck it up.

REX
8th October 2011, 00:58
I heard of a Local Garda who was recently promoted, would be in his early 50s, kids in secondary, college etc, He is promoted to a station 100 miles from his current location.

Suck it up.

He has a choice. Accept promotion and move, or stay where he is at the rank he is. He must have known a move was on the cards when he applied for promotion

Truck Driver
8th October 2011, 01:28
Lets look at the barracks that closed between 1996 and now:
Fermoy (South) - had a coy sized PDF unit
Clancy (East) - I think this was a coy sized PDF unit
Monaghan (East) - had a coy sized PDF unit
Castleblaney (East) - had a coy sized PDF unit
Naas (Curragh) - was AAS
Kildare (Curragh) - had a regimental sized PDF unit (I think)
Ballincollig (South) - had a regimental sized PDF unit
Longford (West) - had a coy sized PDF unit
Lifford (West) - had a coy sized PDF unit
Rockhill (West) - had a coy sized PDF unit.

In 1996, 29 Inf Bn still existed and its 4 Coys were split between Monaghan and Cavan
(the two most modern facilities in the country)

Ditto for 27 Inf Bn split between Castleblayney and Dundalk, at the time

Clancy housed Depot Ord at that time, although it did make more sense to locate
the Depot in DFTC with the other training schools (if I remember correctly, the
"School Of Buns" is the only instructional school outside of DFTC now)

Naas was always on the risk list, given that all other apprentices in civvy street did
block or day release courses in existing third level institutions

Kildare housed Depot Arty and 1 ADR (both now in DFTC, only about 8 miles away)

28 Inf Bn split over three locations was always going to put it on the hit list with any
rationalising of military posts


It makes no sense that the Government are closing functioning permanent military posts that operate 24/7/365 and aren't touching rented RDF property and barracks with no permanent units based in them that are only being used for two hours per week.

I can't disagree with that, to be honest
But I am speaking from the viewpoint that my unit is located in a permanently
manned location, so easy for me to say


Firstly I have to agree that renting property for the RDF is senceless.

But as for the closing down of Bks I am not so sure.

We no longer have a situation where those serving in a Bks either live in or live near enough that they either walk or cycle to work.
People in modern Ireland often travel over an hour to work. Which in many cases is a distance of 80km or more.
It is hard then to claim the DF need a bks in every corner of the country. Mullingar to the Curragh is 70km vis Edenderry of 90km via Tullamore.
to Athlone is 50-60km depending on route and Dublin is 80km.
These in modern times are all commuter distances

As has been mentioned before, a military post could have been built in the Dublin area at the edge
of the M50, and both McKee and the Brugha could have been sold, based on this premise
Won't happen now, while money is so tight, and property prices so low


One grave reservation comes to mind about a guy living any hours or more drive from work...24 hr duties.....driving long distances is not acceptable.

I'll vouch for that - having done shift work in the past, driving home from work after my third
night shift, nearly drove across the road having lapsed into one of those famous micro sleeps


I was sure that there was a stipulation in the terms of service that a soldier will serve wherever the minister sees fit, anywhere in the Country?

I thought so too ?


He has a choice. Accept promotion and move, or stay where he is at the rank he is. He must have known a move was on the cards when he applied for promotion

Rex, no guarantee of a Garda staying in location, promotion or not. It is certainly on the
conditions of service for a Garda that he/she can be posted anywhere in the State, unsure
if the same applies for the Defence Forces

goc132
8th October 2011, 08:37
I can see all points of view but to look at the waste in our country is awful.

Mullingar has more or less no industry biggest employers are HSE & Barracks.

We had the Dept of Agri Vet offices that the Dept owned and were moved when Biffo was in power to Tullamore to rented accommodation WHAT A JOKE
Bits of the hospital have been moved to Tullamore a town with 10,000 less of a pop just because of Biffo.

We need the Barracks to keep money in the town other wise the Tumble Weed will blow down the streets.

DeV
9th October 2011, 23:06
According to the Minister on the radio this morning, he would prefer to close barracks than reduce the PDF further.

bunny shooter
10th October 2011, 02:45
Tough decisions and they have to be made ................. it has to be remembered the country IS broke !

paul g
10th October 2011, 13:09
I can see all points of view but to look at the waste in our country is awful.

Mullingar has more or less no industry biggest employers are HSE & Barracks.

We had the Dept of Agri Vet offices that the Dept owned and were moved when Biffo was in power to Tullamore to rented accommodation WHAT A JOKE
Bits of the hospital have been moved to Tullamore a town with 10,000 less of a pop just because of Biffo.

We need the Barracks to keep money in the town other wise the Tumble Weed will blow down the streets.

That is half the problem, its not so much the barracks its the loss of the jobs and its affect on the town that is important. Mullingar is in a bit of a difficult situation as its proximity to dublin means that retail suffers, as everybody shops in liffey Valley.

the obvious example is what happened in the U.K when coal mining went, communities were destroyed out, and it caused massive social problems in the long term. We don't want that happening here.

I don't deny that barracks have to be closed and savings made. But this is a time for joined up thinking at government level not parish pump politics. Cavan could be developed into a training prison at a fraction of the cost of what's been wasted in Thornton hall, and provide a first class facility the state could be proud off.

hedgehog
10th October 2011, 15:15
Tough decisions and they have to be made ................. it has to be remembered the country IS broke !

Yes and I can the day those Mullingar lads caused the banks to fail,

I remember the exact day the lads in Cavan all were driven around in top of the range Mercedes,

and the lads in Longford... well those bastards each and every one of them drew

a bonus of 12 times the average industrial wage and a gold watch worth 11 grand.

Close the barracks now-

bunny shooter
10th October 2011, 19:25
Hedgehog I know what has happened and I know how much it is costing me personally & financially as it is you, me and almost every other person in this country who's paying the price for the greed of others.

Local hospital or local Army barracks..................which does Joe Public want/need more?

jack08
10th October 2011, 19:48
oh if it was only as simple as that.

hptmurphy
10th October 2011, 20:25
Local hospital or local Army barracks..................which does Joe Public want/need more?

I don't think Joe Public gives a shit tbh, just wants some public servants head on a stick!!!

bunny shooter
10th October 2011, 20:57
Less of them then maybe less tax I might have to pay ;)

hptmurphy
10th October 2011, 21:09
Less of them then maybe less tax I might have to pay


Just remember that6 next time you turn up at hospital and wonder why the wait is several hours longer.....

I get paid whether you suffer or not....

Connaught Stranger
10th October 2011, 21:12
I hear that Castlebar Military Barracks, County Mayo is gone for the chop as well, while not being a fully manned military barracks and used by the F.C.A. / R.D.F. over many years it was a handy staging post for any military exercises in the County Mayo area.

One of two barracks built by the British in 1828 on the site of an old Castle next to the river Lannagh, (the other being an Artillery Barracks that was converted to a Cavalry Barracks, reason for construction post 1798 Rebelion fears of another French landing in the West of Ireland) it has a history of periods of full time occupation by British Regiments of the line, British Militia Units and finally the Connaught Rangers during WW1 period, it also had some years of occupation by Military Pensioners under a Barrack-master, when Irish political influence designated Galway Barracks to be chosen more favorably.

It was partially burnt during the Civil war but approximately 70% of the barracks was saved and used by the Irish, the L.D.F. had it during WW2, then it was extensively used F.C.A. summer camps and P.D.F. holiday camps and numerous exercises down through the years.

Hopefully it wont be demolished and the space used for des-res housing!!!

Connaught Ranger

Goldie fish
10th October 2011, 21:51
You don't need to have a resident military unit for a historic barracks to remain a historic Barracks.
Collins Bks dublin should be evidence of that.

Connaught Stranger
10th October 2011, 22:00
You don't need to have a resident military unit for a historic barracks to remain a historic Barracks.
Collins Bks dublin should be evidence of that.

Look at the location of Collins compared to Castlebar, unless Enda steps in . . . . .:eek:

Goldie fish
10th October 2011, 22:18
Castlebar already lost its PDF element, it makes no sense for the RDF units based there to remain, while their parent units and equipment are elsewhere.

It would make a fine Admiral Brown Museum though if Foxford would let them.

bunny shooter
10th October 2011, 22:34
Just remember that6 next time you turn up at hospital and wonder why the wait is several hours longer.....

I get paid whether you suffer or not....

You are now a public service worker, I'm the public, and I expect the service you are supposed to provide, if you can't/won't/don't provide it why should I pay for it?

Our standing army is too big with too many manned barracks. The minister has hinted that it's close a few barracks or reduce numbers. At least there is a choice, at the moment. Something those of us in the private sector rarely get when it comes to job cuts.

Rhodes
10th October 2011, 23:20
Our standing army is too big with too many manned barracks.

How are you coming to this conclusion?

madmark
10th October 2011, 23:28
we have a defence force of 16000 if you combine pdf and rdf and 16 barracks that 1000 people per barracks thats not too bad i think

DeV
10th October 2011, 23:53
we have a defence force of 16000 if you combine pdf and rdf and 16 barracks that 1000 people per barracks thats not too bad i think

9500 + approx 4500 = ?

madmark
11th October 2011, 00:19
http://www.kildarestreet.com/debate/?id=2011-04-19.173.2

16,000 APPROX feel better now

jack08
11th October 2011, 08:10
I dont think you can include the AR in a standing army. i believe that the AR has to be called up, for it to be included.

Connaught Stranger
11th October 2011, 16:17
Castlebar already lost its PDF element, it makes no sense for the RDF units based there to remain, while their parent units and equipment are elsewhere.

It would make a fine Admiral Brown Museum though if Foxford would let them.

Are not the PDF Training cadre for the R.D.F. unit still located in Castlebar?

I know the old 18th (cant recall their currant designation of the top of my head :S) had P.D.F. cadre in Westport, Ballina, Swinford, and Castlebar Military Barracks.

At the end of my days in the PDF (1997) it stood at:-

P.D.F.

1 Commandant, 1 Captain, 4 CQMS, 2 SGT, 5 Corporals, 4 Pte/Dvrs and 10 PDF attachments from the 1 Bn and 28th Bn*.(*ME)

There was also the 5th Motor SQDN Cadre:-

1 Commandant, 1 Captain, 1 SQMS, 1 SGT, 3 Corporals, 1 Trp/Dvr 1 Trp/Fitter and 1 PDF attachment.

Apart from 4 Transits and 3 Landrovers, 2 weaponless M.60 APC all other "equipment" was in Longford & Galway military Bks.

Connaught Stranger

Goldie fish
11th October 2011, 18:39
Are not the PDF Training cadre for the R.D.F. unit still located in Castlebar?

I know the old 18th (cant recall their currant designation of the top of my head :S) had P.D.F. cadre in Westport, Ballina, Swinford, and Castlebar Military Barracks.

At the end of my days in the PDF (1997) it stood at:-

P.D.F.

1 Commandant, 1 Captain, 4 CQMS, 2 SGT, 5 Corporals, 4 Pte/Dvrs and 10 PDF attachments from the 1 Bn and 28th Bn*.(*ME)

There was also the 5th Motor SQDN Cadre:-

1 Commandant, 1 Captain, 1 SQMS, 1 SGT, 3 Corporals, 1 Trp/Dvr 1 Trp/Fitter and 1 PDF attachment.

Apart from 4 Transits and 3 Landrovers, 2 weaponless M.60 APC all other "equipment" was in Longford & Galway military Bks.

Connaught Stranger



Everyone knows Cadre aren't real soldiers...;)
There are cadre dispersed in huts and sheds all over the country, but it should not be a reason to prolong their disposal, particularly at the expense of a proper operational barracks.

Victor
11th October 2011, 18:46
but it should not be a reason to prolong their disposal"Disposal" or "dispersal"? :-D

Goldie fish
11th October 2011, 18:53
Disposal... Of the barracks. What is done with the cadre is a whole other days work.

Connaught Stranger
11th October 2011, 19:38
Disposal... Of the barracks. What is done with the cadre is a whole other days work.

Well I would say that removing the locations from outside Castlebar, and the use of Castlebar, is denying any persons wishing to be a member of the R.D.F. in large parts of County Mayo a chance to join, for example, persons attending a training night in Galway, who live any where from Ballina, Belmullet, Crosmolina etc.. etc.., as getting them collected by military vehicle and driver would be well nigh impossible (it has to be remembered Mayo is one of the largest counties of Ireland) as well as cost prohibitive with regards fuel. And getting them back home again afterwards.

Castlebar did exist for years only with its cadre, for use as a summer camp for F.C.A. units from around the country, but, it seems to have been sidelined (Health & Safety cited) but in reality to keep the likes of Kilworth going.

Seems the old cry of "Forget anything for the West of the Shannon" still holds true in many aspects still.:mad:

Connaught Stranger.

bunny shooter
11th October 2011, 21:34
How are you coming to this conclusion?


Why do we need a standing army of 9500? Not as if we're going to be invaded by a foreign power unless you consider the IMF & ECB a foreign power and even if we are I don't think we're gonna be able to delay the inevitable for long.

If anything we need a larger navy to patrol our coast.

Goldie fish
11th October 2011, 22:04
Well I would say that removing the locations from outside Castlebar, and the use of Castlebar, is denying any persons wishing to be a member of the R.D.F. in large parts of County Mayo a chance to join, for example, persons attending a training night in Galway, who live any where from Ballina, Belmullet, Crosmolina etc.. etc.., as getting them collected by military vehicle and driver would be well nigh impossible (it has to be remembered Mayo is one of the largest counties of Ireland) as well as cost prohibitive with regards fuel. And getting them back home again afterwards.

Castlebar did exist for years only with its cadre, for use as a summer camp for F.C.A. units from around the country, but, it seems to have been sidelined (Health & Safety cited) but in reality to keep the likes of Kilworth going.

Seems the old cry of "Forget anything for the West of the Shannon" still holds true in many aspects still.:mad:

Connaught Stranger.

West of the shannon is only important if the threat comes from further west. At the moment, it doesn't. The barracks were placed there by the British to control the natives.

Connaught Stranger
11th October 2011, 22:13
West of the shannon is only important if the threat comes from further west. At the moment, it doesn't. The barracks were placed there by the British to control the natives.

My reference to the West of the Shannon is in regards to anything being done to upgrade the rest of the country only applied to going as far as the eastern bank of the River Shannon i.e.
the western bank being seen as "Indian Country".:-D

The British barracks in all of Ireland were placed there with a view of controlling the "natives".\:)|

Connaught Stranger:biggrin:

sofa
11th October 2011, 22:48
Why do we need a standing army of 9500? Not as if we're going to be invaded by a foreign power unless you consider the IMF & ECB a foreign power and even if we are I don't think we're gonna be able to delay the inevitable for long.

If anything we need a larger navy to patrol our coast.

Ra/shinners may have to be sorted again someday

Rhodes
11th October 2011, 23:40
Why do we need a standing army of 9500? Not as if we're going to be invaded by a foreign power

Do you even know what the army do every day?
Do you think 9500 soldiers just sit in a their barracks all day waiting for the country to be invaded?

Goldie fish
12th October 2011, 00:02
Do you even know what the army do every day?
Do you think 9500 soldiers just sit in a their barracks all day waiting for the country to be invaded?

What do 9500 soldiers do every day?

Please formulate your answers to appeal to an audience made up of civil service bean counters.

bunny shooter
12th October 2011, 17:07
Do you even know what the army do every day?
Do you think 9500 soldiers just sit in a their barracks all day waiting for the country to be invaded?

I know what they do :rolleyes: and we don't need 9500 of them doing it, simple.

And as for the RA/Shinners looks like one of their 'former' members could be the new C in C of the DF and realistically the criminals are more of a problem than them and that's a job for our police force !

Rhodes
12th October 2011, 17:50
I know what they do :rolleyes: and we don't need 9500 of them doing it, simple.

You haven't a clue.
For example today my subunit only had 1 Sgt, 1 Cpl and 8 Ptes on parade and most days are the same. The rest being on duties, ex's, op's, courses etc.

Connaught Stranger
12th October 2011, 17:53
I know what they do :rolleyes: and we don't need 9500 of them doing it, simple.

And as for the RA/Shinners looks like one of their 'former' members could be the new C in C of the DF and realistically the criminals are more of a problem than them and that's a job for our police force !

Thanks for your opinion:rolleyes:

The fvckin terrorists are armed criminals, who are responsible for the death of one Irishman who was serving his country, not to mention the Gardai they murdered, may they +Rest In Peace + if you think they, and those who fully support them have all gone away, then you would be very much mistaken.

bunny shooter
12th October 2011, 21:02
I see that a mature and sensible debate is still not possible here :rolleyes:

Goldie fish
12th October 2011, 21:12
Thanks for your opinion:rolleyes:

The fvckin terrorists are armed criminals, who are responsible for the death of one Irishman who was serving his country, not to mention the Gardai they murdered, may they +Rest In Peace + if you think they, and those who fully support them have all gone away, then you would be very much mistaken.

Sure aren't some of them and their supporters in the Defence Forces these days? Ask Rhodes.

Connaught Stranger
12th October 2011, 21:34
I see that a mature and sensible debate is still not possible here :rolleyes:

For that to happen you too will need to at least practice what you preach.

Wicklaman
12th October 2011, 22:09
I hear that Castlebar Military Barracks, County Mayo is gone for the chop as well, while not being a fully manned military barracks and used by the F.C.A. / R.D.F. over many years it was a handy staging post for any military exercises in the County Mayo area.

--SNIP--

It was partially burnt during the Civil war but approximately 70% of the barracks was saved and used by the Irish, the L.D.F. had it during WW2, then it was extensively used F.C.A. summer camps and P.D.F. holiday camps and numerous exercises down through the years.

Hopefully it wont be demolished and the space used for des-res housing!!!

Fond memories of Castlebar (my first camp with the 21 Bn, many years ago). Though parts of it were condemned even then :-D

hedgehog
12th October 2011, 23:38
I know what they do :rolleyes: and we don't need 9500 of them doing it, simple.

And as for the RA/Shinners looks like one of their 'former' members could be the new C in C of the DF and realistically the criminals are more of a problem than them and that's a job for our police force !

Former would imply that he actually left the criminal organisation known as the ira,

has anyone actually seen his letter of resignation- and if he didnt write a letter

surely he should tell us who he informed of his resignation- and if he didnt inform anyone

does this mean that Martin simply "deserted" the ira, and if so do we really want a

convicted criminal with commitment issues as our President.


On a side note- I was in the Aviva last night sitting beside some American Lawyers- they couldnt beleive the reception Mary Mac got when she came out-

I doubt any of the current lot will get half the reception that MMcA got.

Hello Alaska
12th October 2011, 23:55
When people are discussing the Army specifically, can they stop throwing the figure of 9500 troops around?

If you're gonna say there's too many troops in the Army, at least get the numbers right.

Victor
13th October 2011, 00:42
When people are discussing the Army specifically, can they stop throwing the figure of 9500 troops around?

If you're gonna say there's too many troops in the Army, at least get the numbers right.Any idea of what those numbers are? :biggrin:

Rhodes
13th October 2011, 01:00
Any idea of what those numbers are? :biggrin:

As of 31 August 2011 the strength of the Defence Forces was 9513

Army 7722
Naval Service 1005
Air Corps 786

Connaught Stranger
13th October 2011, 09:14
Fond memories of Castlebar (my first camp with the 21 Bn, many years ago). Though parts of it were condemned even then :-D

Depending on when you were in Castlebar, particularly in the 1970-1980 period:-

A-B Block were being used by Mayo County Council for rent and rates and Planning Applications - mapping sections.

C-D Block was for accommodation.

G-H Block for accommodation.

M-N-O top floor Officer accommodation and 5th Cav Offices,
M-N-O middle floor 2 rooms officer accommodation and 18th Inf Bn HQ offices,
M-N-O ground floor, Officers Mess, Guardroom, weapons stores.

Archway Gate house, upstairs O/O BOS - MAP, down stairs storage and gate policeman, old cells 5th Cav equipment storage.

Old British Military Engine shed, storage of heli refueling equipment.
Old British Powder Magazine storage of Ordnance items belong too 18th Bn.

Old British Officers Cookhouse and Cobbler shops to the immediate rear of M-N-O used as turf storage sheds.

Parade Ground green area tentage accommodation and football field, and small .22 Calibre Rifle Range.

House located at the rear (Main Gate) Housed the family of C.Q.M.S. McLaughlin.
Shed beside them, the old British Army C.O.'s Stables for two horses, used for fuel storage by the occupants of the house.

Walled in grassy area / old British Army drying ground - used as a Gustaf range.

Cookhouse and Gym*, used for food preparation and eating area for those on camp,
the Gym was constructed during the LDF WW2 period.

To my knowledge the ruins of the old Hospital Block, the Dead House, the old British C.Q.M.S. stores, old urinals between the rear corner of A-B and the house at the back gate were condemned, the area between G-H and M-N-O there stood for many years the shell of an accommodation block, this was removed as being dangerous.

The old British Army Armourer's shop located at the gate leading to the hospital yard was later repaired and used as a carpentry shop.

The old British ladder storage sheds, along the road to the rear of the C-D were converted to toilets and urinals for the L.D.F. during the Emergency.

A-B, C-D, G-H, M-N-O had stairwell landing toilets added during the L.D.F. WW2 period as well.

There was a shortcut for the Public from the front (Rock Square) to the rear (Barrack Bridge) of the Barracks, the gates only being secured during Camps, and on Christmas Day and Good Friday to prevent a permanent Public Footpath being declared

Connaught Stranger.

The Prisoner
13th October 2011, 09:20
Goodman CS, brings back a few memories.

Had a couple of great camps there in the 70s/80s.

Connaught Stranger
13th October 2011, 10:31
Goodman CS, brings back a few memories.

Had a couple of great camps there in the 70s/80s.

The history of the Military Barrack's in Castlebar, and other locations such as Westport, Foxford, Ballina, Ballinrobe, Ballaghderren, Swinford, Charlestown and the British Military units in County Mayo from about 1750 - 1920 is a pet project of mine, I have amassed tons of reference information, which I have spent the last few years transferring from reference information to computer files, I suppose now its time to think about putting it into a series of volumes for publication, and to find a Publisher willing to undertake such a project.

Connaught Stranger.

The Prisoner
13th October 2011, 11:54
CS, sound very interesting. Best of luck with the project.

Truck Driver
14th October 2011, 01:40
cs, sound very interesting. Best of luck with the project.

+1 \:)|

Wicklaman
14th October 2011, 15:00
Depending on when you were in Castlebar, particularly in the 1970-1980 period:-

A-B Block were being used by Mayo County Council for rent and rates and Planning Applications - mapping sections.

C-D Block was for accommodation.

G-H Block for accommodation.

M-N-O top floor Officer accommodation and 5th Cav Offices,
M-N-O middle floor 2 rooms officer accommodation and 18th Inf Bn HQ offices,
M-N-O ground floor, Officers Mess, Guardroom, weapons stores.

Archway Gate house, upstairs O/O BOS - MAP, down stairs storage and gate policeman, old cells 5th Cav equipment storage.

Old British Military Engine shed, storage of heli refueling equipment.
Old British Powder Magazine storage of Ordnance items belong too 18th Bn.

Old British Officers Cookhouse and Cobbler shops to the immediate rear of M-N-O used as turf storage sheds.

Parade Ground green area tentage accommodation and football field, and small .22 Calibre Rifle Range.

House located at the rear (Main Gate) Housed the family of C.Q.M.S. McLaughlin.
Shed beside them, the old British Army C.O.'s Stables for two horses, used for fuel storage by the occupants of the house.

Walled in grassy area / old British Army drying ground - used as a Gustaf range.

Cookhouse and Gym*, used for food preparation and eating area for those on camp,
the Gym was constructed during the LDF WW2 period.

To my knowledge the ruins of the old Hospital Block, the Dead House, the old British C.Q.M.S. stores, old urinals between the rear corner of A-B and the house at the back gate were condemned, the area between G-H and M-N-O there stood for many years the shell of an accommodation block, this was removed as being dangerous.

The old British Army Armourer's shop located at the gate leading to the hospital yard was later repaired and used as a carpentry shop.

The old British ladder storage sheds, along the road to the rear of the C-D were converted to toilets and urinals for the L.D.F. during the Emergency.

A-B, C-D, G-H, M-N-O had stairwell landing toilets added during the L.D.F. WW2 period as well.

There was a shortcut for the Public from the front (Rock Square) to the rear (Barrack Bridge) of the Barracks, the gates only being secured during Camps, and on Christmas Day and Good Friday to prevent a permanent Public Footpath being declared

Connaught Stranger.

Thanks for all that, CS. The .22 range brings back especially good memories (we made sure to be out there every evening! A great activity on a camp). The stairwell toilets were off-limits to us (1993), which meant a trek out to the shower house.

This is the block (2nd floor) the recruits at least stayed in, looking across the square from the rear gates:

http://forum.irishmilitaryonline.com/picture.php?albumid=28&pictureid=149

This was the cookhouse, complete with a sandbag fortification some distance in front that we had put up (at the top of the ramp) for securing the front entrance:

http://forum.irishmilitaryonline.com/picture.php?albumid=28&pictureid=148

Here's another one, same camp:

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5154/5877979721_b692d5cc01_z_d.jpg

The entrance on the left to the block is the privates' mess, the whole structure around the back gate can just be glimpsed to the right (possibly the gate there is to the .22 range?).

Infy
14th October 2011, 16:54
The .22 range is further to the right across the tarmac, at the edge of the pitch. That's the guard room on the right with the pvc windows, the window to the left of the guard room was the stores, at least it was in 2002 ish I think when I was last there on a camp. I could be wrong though

Wicklaman
14th October 2011, 17:32
The .22 range is further to the right across the tarmac, at the edge of the pitch. That's the guard room on the right with the pvc windows, the window to the left of the guard room was the stores, at least it was in 2002 ish I think when I was last there on a camp. I could be wrong though

No, you're right about the last, I was deliberately not going to mention where it was in the picture :biggrin:

Having a .22 range on camps is such a no-brainer that I can't believe it's not the norm (I won't hold out hope for it becoming a parade-night occurrence).

DeV
14th October 2011, 18:32
No, you're right about the last, I was deliberately not going to mention where it was in the picture :biggrin:

Having a .22 range on camps is such a no-brainer that I can't believe it's not the norm (I won't hold out hope for it becoming a parade-night occurrence).

Except there is no .22 adapter for the Steyr giving that it is .223

Connaught Stranger
14th October 2011, 19:45
I was stationed in Castlebar in 1993, might have even been working in the canteen in G-H Block, later I was running Barrack Accomodation Services, I left in 1997:-

Picture 1 shows "C-D" Accommodation Block, in your time the Medic & P.A. was probably located downstairs in the middle section. The edge of "B" Block can be seen to the left of the picture, between the two was a set of steps that later were out of bounds for use after a recruit was blown down them by strong winds and broke his arm.

Picture 2:- is actually the Gym / Dinning area erected by the Irish during the Emergency / WW2 in the early 1990's an extension was built to the rear for a small officers dinning room and a wash-up area part of which can be seen between the telegraph pole on the left and the edge of the gym building.

Interestingly enough, in the time of the British occupancy of the barracks only the cookhouse building was there, troops bringing the food back to their rooms to eat there, if you remember the serving hatches in the wall inside the dining room, this was the original outside wall of the British cookhouse, in the late 1800's two cast iron water tanks were erected about where the dinning hall stands as a water storage supply for the barracks, water being drawn by gravity pump from the well on the square.

The sandbag position is sited next to where there was a small gate leading into the "Drying Grounds" next to old British Army Quartermaster Stores building (this was a two story structure) in ruins.

Picture 3:- shows "M-N-O" block which was Officer accommodation for the camps at this period, the front porches, were not original to the British construction in 1828, but added later, this block too was unique in that it had two wooden stairs rather than stone steps like the other blocks.

In your time going in the front porch located on the left would lead to:- downstairs left, a room used as officer accommodation, later converted to officers ante room, to the right of this, the door into the Officers Mess Bar.
Going up the stairs the old 18th Inf Bn H.Q. offices for CQMS, CO's Office. Orderly Room, ADJT Office, and another room for accommodation, (these all were converted to officer accommodation when the 18th & 5th Cav moved to "A-B" Block.)

The second wooden stairway exited out of a door located midway along the rear of the building and I doubt many people would have been aware of its existence.

The "beat" was an addition in the 1990's, the lower stone wall material was salvaged from the base of where "I-J-K" British Officer Accommodation block once stood, between "G-H" and "M-N-O" Blocks, where today two wooden Huts stand, these huts came from Custume Barracks in Athlone one used to be the old X-Ray equipment hut, I wonder if anybody ever passed a Geiger counter over it:-D, also around this time was constructed the base for the new flag pole in front of "A-B" "C-D" which proved to be a bad choice, as the flag spent more time wrapped tightly around the pole than actually flying proudly from it.

Up stairs again you are in the old 5th Cav, Lines whose layout mimic the old 18th Bn lines.

The building to the right of the guardroom, with the white painted arch is the old British Army "Engine Room" (where the hand pumped fire engine was stored) at the time of the picture it was full of heli fuel barrels and electric pump for Heli-Refuling, I know because it was my job to bring the fuel out onto the square ready for the Aer Corps calling in to refuel.:tongue:

To the left of this was an old disused urinal and then a small stone building with a wrought iron fence around it, this was the old British Army Powder Magazine.

To the right of the Heli-Refuling store was the old British Army Guardroom, Archway with gate to Rock Square, and the old British Army Prison cells, the British Army Handball "Eton Fives" Ally was converted into a workshop for the 5th Cav, and the area in front a transport park.

Connaught Stranger.

Rhodes
14th October 2011, 20:18
Except there is no .22 adapter for the Steyr giving that it is .223

The Aussies use one.
http://forum.irishmilitaryonline.com/showpost.php?p=343461&postcount=47

Connaught Stranger
14th October 2011, 20:22
By the way with regard the .22 Range in Castlebar the British used it for shooting .303!!

And so did I one quiet evening lost in the mists of time.

Since 1828 they also had two full size ranges outside the town, (Aughadrinagh?) one of which the Artillery detachment fired its cannon on, (Raheen Barr) must look up the location names in my files as I cant remember them off the top of my head.

Connaught Stranger

REX
14th October 2011, 22:37
Closure of army barracks ‘could save millions and strengthen peacekeeping’
By Juno McEnroe, Political Reporter
Friday, October 14, 2011
A gain of €5m could be made for every 100 soldiers on an average salary of €50,000, he added.

"That’s the sort of gain you’re talking about," Mr Howard said, adding that such changes were like "recruiting a couple of hundred people for the frontline".

Just a small part of the rubbish being peddled by the Dept. An average wage of 50,000 I wish. We're not all on 173,000 to 220,000 like he is as general secretary of the Dept
I notice he also pulled back from the claims that there would be cash savings from closures saying "Barrack closures would not necessarily save money but could lead to "huge efficiencies".

Goldie fish
14th October 2011, 22:46
Do you know what the word "Average" means?

REX
14th October 2011, 22:58
Do you know what the word "Average" means?

I won't treat your comment like the insult it is but if you can show me how 50,00 is the average DF wage, even if it includes officers, i would be very interested to see it, well over 50% of the DF are Cpl equivilant or lower.

Goldie fish
14th October 2011, 23:30
OK so.

We will assume that the Senior officer in a barracks is a Lt Colonel.(Most manage to retain at least one).
He earns Up to €70,000 per year Plus Mil Service allowence
Commandant up to €64000
Captain up to €51513
Lt up to €39609
BSM up €797.73, or €41482 per year
BQMS up to €40475
CS up to €37086
CQMS up to €36458
Sgt up to €31345
Cpl up to €28394
A Private earns €442/week after 3 years service, that's €22984 a year.

Average, based on Rank alone, not proportion at that rank is €42122 or thereabouts.
If the Barracks Has a few colonels(like Clonmel) then you can see how the figure of €50k can be rounded off. Add All the allowences a soldier will get in barracks also, and you can reach an average of €50k.

It is the same twisted statistic that convinces the average Indo reader that all civil servants are earning €45k a year, when the top end of our scale is the Taoiseach on €300k a year.

Victor
15th October 2011, 06:27
It is the same twisted statistic that convinces the average Indo reader that all civil servants are earning €45k a year, when the top end of our scale is the Taoiseach on €300k a year.Kenny is only taking about €200,000-225,000.

Note that wages, allowances and expenses are only part of the cost of employing someone.

Wildfowler94
15th October 2011, 17:07
I know what they do :rolleyes: and we don't need 9500 of them doing it, simple.

And as for the RA/Shinners looks like one of their 'former' members could be the new C in C of the DF and realistically the criminals are more of a problem than them and that's a job for our police force !



May I ask what you do for a living? that makes you so competent to comment on my job?

hptmurphy
15th October 2011, 18:35
I've heard a date of the 6th of December for Clonmels Closure.

Tbh I don't think its political decisions this time around but the Army shedding some costs before they are enforced by the budget.

Bravo20
15th October 2011, 18:59
The DF has to make 104m in cutbacks over four years (starting in 2009)

antares
16th October 2011, 10:29
OK so.

We will assume that the Senior officer in a barracks is a Lt Colonel.(Most manage to retain at least one).
He earns Up to €70,000 per year Plus Mil Service allowence
Commandant up to €64000
Captain up to €51513
Lt up to €39609
BSM up €797.73, or €41482 per year
BQMS up to €40475
CS up to €37086
CQMS up to €36458
Sgt up to €31345
Cpl up to €28394
A Private earns €442/week after 3 years service, that's €22984 a year.

Average, based on Rank alone, not proportion at that rank is €42122 or thereabouts.
If the Barracks Has a few colonels(like Clonmel) then you can see how the figure of €50k can be rounded off. Add All the allowences a soldier will get in barracks also, and you can reach an average of €50k.

It is the same twisted statistic that convinces the average Indo reader that all civil servants are earning €45k a year, when the top end of our scale is the Taoiseach on €300k a year.

Sorry, I have to be pedantic here GF, and I know you mentioned it in your post, but the average wage has to take into account the numbers of each rank.

A quick calculation shows the average wage at about €27000 when numbers of each rank is averaged, which makes your comment about skewed statistics even more valid.

BANDIT
16th October 2011, 19:19
why are there a few cols. in Clonmel? Another DF secret facility like abbeyshrule,, Too many officers reduce , jury out on Mullingar but do agree with having a few large barracks, next to ranges, exercise areas, etc , less units , amalgamate units eg, the 52 Batt , The 5th and 2nd into one, cut off a lot of this corps nonsence , cavalry, artill , when in fact there are just a few small units that could be integrated into a combined arms infantry type unit.

hptmurphy
16th October 2011, 19:30
why are there a few cols. in Clonmel

Reserve directorate and Mil. Pol. directorate based there. Nothing to do with the line unit based there.

golden rivet
16th October 2011, 19:55
No, you're right about the last, I was deliberately not going to mention where it was in the picture :biggrin:

Having a .22 range on camps is such a no-brainer that I can't believe it's not the norm (I won't hold out hope for it becoming a parade-night occurrence).
longford had, .22....303, and bap range...

Connaught Stranger
16th October 2011, 20:17
longford had, .22....303, and bap range...

Longford was a full time military barracks as I recall:biggrin:

I qualified on the Gustaff smg in Longford Gustaf & BAP range prior to deployment with the 46th Bn,

after 4 hours instruction and T.O.E.T.S the night before in Custume Bks Athlone, a quick drive over to Longford from Athlone, the Officer who qualified me was later to get the "An Bonn Mileata Calmachta" for his actions in At-Tiri.

I was the only person who got to do this fast conversion course in Athlone-Longford as the then OC of "C" Company Commandant David Taylor decided he wanted Regimental Signalmen carrying the Gustaff!

Connaught Stranger

Aidan
17th October 2011, 09:51
Just a small part of the rubbish being peddled by the Dept. An average wage of 50,000 I wish. We're not all on 173,000 to 220,000 like he is as general secretary of the Dept

Actually, try adding in the cost of employers PRSI, lifetime pension cost and (as Victor says) the expenses for each soldier, and then see what the average cost to the State of having someone on the payroll is.

Also, the point he makes is entirely valid - there is little logic in having relatively small Barracks spread around the country, absorbing staff in basic admin tasks and reducing the effectiveness of the DF. The DF has spent the last 20 years closing these outposts, and concentrating resources in cities and larger towns - the closure of Columb Barracks is just another example of that.

Connaught Stranger
17th October 2011, 16:40
Actually, try adding in the cost of employers PRSI, lifetime pension cost and (as Victor says) the expenses for each soldier, and then see what the average cost to the State of having someone on the payroll is.

Also, the point he makes is entirely valid - there is little logic in having relatively small Barracks spread around the country, absorbing staff in basic admin tasks and reducing the effectiveness of the DF. The DF has spent the last 20 years closing these outposts, and concentrating resources in cities and larger towns - the closure of Columb Barracks is just another example of that.

Aiden, :biggrin:

if I my be so bold with regards yours above,
in the last 20 years can you list these "outposts" you refer too.

I for one believe that with regards the old Western Command Border area,
Rockhill House & Lifford were more than mere "outposts", possibly
Manorhamilton Military Post in Co. Leitrim, would fit that description,
in my opinion there was an almost obscene rush to get rid of locations
along the Border, including newly constructed Border Checkpoints,
with very little thought given to future tensions along the border, even
more so today in light of current events in Northern Ireland
where the dissidents are stirring the pot again.

Castlebar Military Barracks was ideal for accommodating large groups of Regular for military exercises, that went tits up when somebody decided it was better to send them to Kilworth Camp, in 1997 prior to me leaving the service I had the misfortune to be sent there as a "go-fer" for a Standard N.C.O.'s Course, it was a right kip, and even below the standard of Castlebar Military Barracks.

The Staff you refer too in smaller outpost (particularly the F.C.A./R.D.F. P.D.F. Cadres) if all were moved lock-stock-and barrel into the larger locations, would not allow the functions of the units to be completed, which can be seen today, particularly with large areas of County Mayo for example as recruiting ground being left idle.

Not to mentions well as having to find space in many of the older, crowded barracks, for R.D.F. Units to have their own Administration offices, the stress on Cookhouse facilities trying to feed the normal PDF Cadres and the R.D.F. Cadres, as well as accommodation for weekend camps and Annual training etc..etc..

Connaught Stranger.:biggrin:

Goldie fish
17th October 2011, 17:32
Many of these posts, North and south were removed as part of the Normalisation process following the GFA. Indeed I got lost in Lifford in 1998 as I couldnt find the PVCP on the Strabane Road. It had been a very Obvious, and Permant appearing, landmark prior to then for years.
It made sense that if the Army in NI were not doing checkpoints, the Army in the south shouldnt be either. So why then do you need such a concentration of troops in what are otherwise, sparsley populated rural counties?
However the removal of the customs posts may yet be an issue that needs to be revisited. The dissidents do not enjoy the same popular support that PIRA had, and that isn't saying much. At the moment, they lack th elogistics required to carry out a sustained border campaign, and with the closure of many PSNI barracks along the border, their "targets" don't exist either.
Kilworth camp now does not resemble Kilworth Camp of 1997. The reason it is so much superior(heated accom blocks, showers that always have hot water, etc) is the closure of other barracks. The DF has decided that Coolmoney and Kilworth will be the main training barracks for all units going overseas. This was decided in the white paper of 2000.

There is no point in locating soldiers in places just so that county can have a Military presence. We are well past those days, and we have an army that is trying to be a mobile, deployable force, not a security garrison.

Connaught Stranger
17th October 2011, 22:09
Many of these posts, North and south were removed as part of the Normalisation process following the GFA. Indeed I got lost in Lifford in 1998 as I couldnt find the PVCP on the Strabane Road. It had been a very Obvious, and Permant appearing, landmark prior to then for years.
It made sense that if the Army in NI were not doing checkpoints, the Army in the south shouldnt be either. So why then do you need such a concentration of troops in what are otherwise, sparsley populated rural counties?
However the removal of the customs posts may yet be an issue that needs to be revisited. The dissidents do not enjoy the same popular support that PIRA had, and that isn't saying much. At the moment, they lack th elogistics required to carry out a sustained border campaign, and with the closure of many PSNI barracks along the border, their "targets" don't exist either.
Kilworth camp now does not resemble Kilworth Camp of 1997. The reason it is so much superior(heated accom blocks, showers that always have hot water, etc) is the closure of other barracks. The DF has decided that Coolmoney and Kilworth will be the main training barracks for all units going overseas. This was decided in the white paper of 2000.

There is no point in locating soldiers in places just so that county can have a Military presence. We are well past those days, and we have an army that is trying to be a mobile, deployable force, not a security garrison.

Sorry G.F. but an International Border regardless of where located is always a security priority, especially with the past history of Ireland, even in these times of E.U. openness.

Point 1:- Just look at the length of International Border that exists along Co. Donegal,
a County with a population of 160,927 according to the 2011 census.

Point 2:- The portion of the International Border that exists along Co. Leitrim, a county with a population of 31,778 according to the 2011 census

Point 3:- The portion of the International Border that exists along Co. Cavan, a county with a population of 72,874 according to the 2011 census.

Point 4:- The portion of the International Border that exists along Co. Monaghan, a county with a population of 60,495 according to the 2011 census.

Point 5:- The portion of the International Border that exists along Co. Louth, a county with a population of 122,808 according to the 2011 census.

So the "sparsley populated rural counties " do require the presence of security forces, as they were fertile grounds for terrorist activity including smuggling to finance that activity in the past and no doubt will be in use in the future.

My point with regards Border Checkpoints was the fact that instead of locking the door for example on the purpose built checkpoint at Clyhore on the Ballyshannon-Belleck road, it was deemed better to demolish the structure, instead of moth-balling it for a rainy day.

Yes! good point Coolmoney, and Kilworth, the latter which was upgraded, mainly to keep jobs in the East, the money spent on Kilworth could just have easily been spent on Castlebar Military Barracks, Kilworth as I recall was sandwiched between two active D.F. positions namely Kilkenny Barracks and Fermoy Barracks.


And it seems we have a mobile deploy-able force now (as long as its mainly located East of the Shannon and those few remaining units West of the Shannon can deploy their P.D.F. / R.D.F. for Camps in Kilworth for the foreseeable future.

Connaught Ranger.

Goldie fish
17th October 2011, 22:20
I have to disagree. Look at the French/german Border, they have no huge garrisons waiting to pounce, and you can cross between countries unaware of the transition. Equally the France/Belgium border is recognisable only because the motorway slims down to one lane.

Border security is a policing task, not a military one.

REX
18th October 2011, 00:38
I have to disagree. Look at the French/german Border, they have no huge garrisons waiting to pounce, and you can cross between countries unaware of the transition. Equally the France/Belgium border is recognisable only because the motorway slims down to one lane.

Border security is a policing task, not a military one.

They also have the same currency, meaning that flutuations in the currency rates do not make smuggling the lucrative endevour it is on the irish border. Personally , I believe this is the main reason for the continuation of armed gangs, who call themselves freedom fighters, thye are just heavily armed criminal thugs, out to profit, by any means

As we do not have a routinely armed police force it still falls to the army to be the wall against these elements

Connaught Stranger
18th October 2011, 10:08
I have to disagree. Look at the French/german Border, they have no huge garrisons waiting to pounce, and you can cross between countries unaware of the transition. Equally the France/Belgium border is recognisable only because the motorway slims down to one lane.

Border security is a policing task, not a military one.

I believe terrorist activity to be rare on the French German Border, however in the French Spanish area security is far tighter.

Even at the height of the troubles the P.D.F. had no "huge garrisons waiting to pounce," the soldiers that were there, were mainly acting as back-up to the Gardai on their checkpoints, and CIT escorts, Explosive escorts, as well as being involved in searches for terrorist training grounds and weapons dumps.

I for one, never swallowed the codswallop that nearly all the terrorist weaponry was handed up for deactivation, as the Shinner's undoubtedly kept stocks in reserve just in case a change of heart should come about.

But, even you cant deny that today, the majority of the Irish Defence Forces are being moved far from areas which traditionally have given a lot of cause for concern.

Connaught Stranger.

Connaught Stranger
18th October 2011, 10:10
They also have the same currency, meaning that flutuations in the currency rates do not make smuggling the lucrative endevour it is on the irish border. Personally , I believe this is the main reason for the continuation of armed gangs, who call themselves freedom fighters, thye are just heavily armed criminal thugs, out to profit, by any means

As we do not have a routinely armed police force it still falls to the army to be the wall against these elements

I believe it to be the other way around, heavily armed criminal gangs of "former" terrorists both sides of the border, particularly with a huge interest in drug smuggling and drug dealing.

Connaught Stranger.

Aidan
18th October 2011, 11:21
Yes! good point Coolmoney, and Kilworth, the latter which was upgraded, mainly to keep jobs in the East, the money spent on Kilworth could just have easily been spent on Castlebar Military Barracks, Kilworth as I recall was sandwiched between two active D.F. positions namely Kilkenny Barracks and Fermoy Barracks.

CS - it seems that your argument is premised as much on 'keeping jobs in the Wesht' as it is on anything else. The DF is far smaller than it was 20 years ago, far better equipped, and with a different focus. It is not (and should not) be a gendarmerie/armed counter smuggling force - it's a modern military force, with an increased focus on interoperability with other EU armies. That takes a high standard of training, which in turn takes high quality facilities. With a limited budget, it makes sense to focus investment on the best facilities available, and cut the remainder loose. No point spreading your investment over a wider range than necessary and losing the benefits of critical mass. The same applies to barracks.

And yes, in DF terms the west suffers from the same geographical issues that plague it in other walks of life - low population density, a falling proportion of the national population, few large towns, an aging population; all factors which mitigate against much of the region as a location for barracks (or many industries for that matter). All of these issues are multigenerational in nature - should the DF budget really be used in a vain attempt to reverse these trends? Because it won't work, but in doing so you'd waste money that would be better spent on training and equipping troops.

Connaught Stranger
18th October 2011, 12:03
CS - it seems that your argument is premised as much on 'keeping jobs in the Wesht' as it is on anything else. The DF is far smaller than it was 20 years ago, far better equipped, and with a different focus. It is not (and should not) be a gendarmerie/armed counter smuggling force - it's a modern military force, with an increased focus on interoperability with other EU armies. That takes a high standard of training, which in turn takes high quality facilities. With a limited budget, it makes sense to focus investment on the best facilities available, and cut the remainder loose. No point spreading your investment over a wider range than necessary and losing the benefits of critical mass. The same applies to barracks.

And yes, in DF terms the west suffers from the same geographical issues that plague it in other walks of life - low population density, a falling proportion of the national population, few large towns, an aging population; all factors which mitigate against much of the region as a location for barracks (or many industries for that matter). All of these issues are multigenerational in nature - should the DF budget really be used in a vain attempt to reverse these trends? Because it won't work, but in doing so you'd waste money that would be better spent on training and equipping troops.

Well as much as many hate to admit it the "West" is as much a part of the Republic of Ireland, as any other point of the compass, even if down through the years, it has been considered to be a poor relation, with regards my p.o.v. its also aimed at the North West as well, the population regardless of density deserve as much as (equal to the rest of the country.)

The role of the D.F. while having greatly improved over the last twenty years in my opinion, cannot be rated as comparable with other E.U. forces most of which are boosted by their N.A.T.O. membership, what examples apart from a token involvement of a very small number of personnel in I.S.A.F., an appearance of what a battalion sized group with EUFOR in "Sudan" before being converted to a standard U.N. Mission and a winter exercises in the Nordic Countries rates them as being "interoperability" with European military forces.

Your argument seems to favour the P.D.F. in a role it does not quite have down pat yet seeing as a minority of the Force has been/will be involved with missions outside of Ireland, at the expense of Internal Security, while Ireland has not got an armed police force or a police orientated gendarme, then of course the army will have to provide back-up.

The P.D.F. (& R.D.F.) has also been boxed in by the current embargo on promotions and recruiting, so one must ask: where will the line in the sand be drawn with regards the Irish Defence Forces Government cuts.

Connaught Ranger.

Goldie fish
18th October 2011, 12:34
Wherever the line is drawn, it will not be members of the DF who will draw it. To do so is better known as "mutiny".
CS.
With deepest respect, you do not seem to be taking on board any of the points being put accross by myself or aidan, and are reverting to defence of a barracks which is justifiably dear to your heart, and a DF role which should never have been a DF role in the first place.
You state that the Irish DF overseas cannot be compared with other similar sized EU armies. Could that be because most of our DF are required at home to do Guard/Stand To in the numerous barracks around the country?

Leave the I.S. tasks to the Gardai. There are far more routinely armed garda units now than there was in 1997. Hopefully we will see a day when these units will take over C.I.T also.

However, as you seek to maintain your barracks west of the shannon, consider the Brigade structure of the Defence forces(ignoring DFTC) and realise that the west is being treated no different to the East or the South.

Aidan
18th October 2011, 12:37
it has been considered to be a poor relation

If anything the reverse is true - the West has been the beneficiary of a series of cross subsidies from the more productive parts of the State for much of the history of the State, some explicit*, some buried in higher services charges (electricty and telecom costs in particular). It hasn't gotten the same level of infrastructure spend, but that's mainly down to the geography of the area. So the question of people living in the west getting what they 'deserve' is moot, they have effectively been cross subsidised by the rest of the country for generations. In fact, for most of the period, the only 'net' generators of wealth in the last 20-30 years have been the Dublin and South West (Cork) regions, with Limerick dipping in and out -Galway is now starting to emerge above the gain line also. This empirical reality doesn't do anything for the 'poor us' mindset that tends to hold true for some west of the Shannon though.


Your argument seems to favour the P.D.F. in a role it does not quite have down pat yet seeing as a minority of the Force has been/will be involved with missions outside of Ireland, at the expense of Internal Security

I'm sorry, but I don't follow. Because the DF (or PDF in this case) haven't yet reached the same level as other EU forces, they should just stop trying and revert to traditional IS roles, despite the vastly changed security situation (and the last White Paper, and the next one)? Unless available resources are focussed on training and equipment, the DF will never be able to contribute fully to the States' objectives be operating on the same level as other EU forces. To be fair, they have come a huge way in the last 15 years - clearly it is possible for them to continue to develop, why stop now? Similarly, there's no question but that the level of the threat posed by the Dissident community is (a) far less than posed by the PIRA, and (b) spread across the country, with a lot of arrests in Wexford/Waterford/Dublin/Louth, all well east of the Shannon.

The DF is a service - it's role is to do the tasks mandated for it by Government and the Constitution. At present, these roles do not include a regional development one, whereby it is to maintain barracks because the people of certain western counties feel that they 'deserve' to have a military presence in their town.

*http://www.esri.ie/UserFiles/publications/20080131131705/WP195.pdf

Connaught Stranger
18th October 2011, 17:10
Wherever the line is drawn, it will not be members of the DF who will draw it. To do so is better known as "mutiny".
CS.
With deepest respect, you do not seem to be taking on board any of the points being put accross by myself or aidan, and are reverting to defence of a barracks which is justifiably dear to your heart, and a DF role which should never have been a DF role in the first place.
You state that the Irish DF overseas cannot be compared with other similar sized EU armies. Could that be because most of our DF are required at home to do Guard/Stand To in the numerous barracks around the country?

Leave the I.S. tasks to the Gardai. There are far more routinely armed garda units now than there was in 1997. Hopefully we will see a day when these units will take over C.I.T also.

However, as you seek to maintain your barracks west of the shannon, consider the Brigade structure of the Defence forces(ignoring DFTC) and realise that the west is being treated no different to the East or the South.

Gentlemen, thanks for your replies, its refreshing to have this discussion in such a dignified manner, if I may say,

As far as I can see there is nothing in my posts to suggest that members of the D.F. would/should/could draw any lines???

My comments are NOT only in regard to the barracks in Castlebar but, to the way the Defence Forces in the North-West & West have been treated for years.

Again, if I may, the role of the Irish Defence Forces has been precisely that, of a Defence Force, and not a conventional military army suited for offensive actions as for example many European NATO Forces.

Yes, service in South Lebanon with U.N.I.F.I.L. was a great advantage to the members of the Irish Defence Forces, but all it takes is a wave of a ministerial pen to end such service as we saw for example between 2000-2011.

If the Irish Defence Forces are to cope on a level / or even up to a level, as say other E.U. Forces, will the particular units being trained, be trained at the cost of the rest of the Defence Forces / Reserve Defence Forces, seeing as the budget strings are pulled so tight.

Will such units being readied for "overseas" none U.N. missions be staffed by continued voluntary service for "overseas" or will it be a case of the military personnel being ordered to go?

And again with regards the down sizing of the military locations, will this mean that people living in certain areas of the country are to be denied access to the Reserve Defence Forces?

I am well aware that nothing stays the same, for ever, but to my eyes its surprising how the people of the West have been written off with regards serving in the R.D.F. unless they happen to be located in Galway, Roscommon, Sligo, etc.. etc..

I also find a surprising comparison with the political/economical-social/military events concerning Castlebar Military Barracks under British Rule (1828-1920) reflected in its use since it was taken over by the Irish Republic (1920-2011).

Connaught Stranger.

Hello Alaska
18th October 2011, 17:31
Yes, service in South Lebanon with U.N.I.F.I.L. was a great advantage to the members of the Irish Defence Forces, but all it takes is a wave of a ministerial pen to end such service as we saw for example between 2000-2011.

Between 2000-2011 the PDF deployed troops to UNMEE, UNIFIL, UNMIL, UNTAET, EUFOR and KFOR.

It's not like Overseas vanished for 11 years.


If the Irish Defence Forces are to cope on a level / or even up to a level, as say other E.U. Forces, will the particular units being trained, be trained at the cost of the rest of the Defence Forces / Reserve Defence Forces, seeing as the budget strings are pulled so tight.

Speaking from experience with the EUBG, no other Units are not being sacrificed.


Will such units being readied for "overseas" none U.N. missions be staffed by continued voluntary service for "overseas" or will it be a case of the military personnel being ordered to go?

At the risk of sounding too harsh, it's an army at the end of the day. Troops will go where they're ordered to go. If I had my way, Units would be deploying instead of the system we use now.

RoyalGreenJacket
18th October 2011, 17:42
At the risk of sounding too harsh, it's an army at the end of the day. Troops will go where they're ordered to go. If I had my way, Units would be deploying instead of the system we use now.

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Hello Alaska
18th October 2011, 18:02
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The picture isnt showing mate.

DeV
18th October 2011, 18:09
The role of the D.F. while having greatly improved over the last twenty years in my opinion, cannot be rated as comparable with other E.U. forces most of which are boosted by their N.A.T.O. membership, what examples apart from a token involvement of a very small number of personnel in I.S.A.F., an appearance of what a battalion sized group with EUFOR in "Sudan" before being converted to a standard U.N. Mission and a winter exercises in the Nordic Countries rates them as being "interoperability" with European military forces.

As Hello Alaska has said we have had a number of overseas operations were interoperability has been required (as we not usually have another country involved in the battalions we are/were part of) - UNIFIL, EUFOR Chad and KFOR as examples.

It is also part of the requirements for PfP and the Helsinki Headline Goals.




Will such units being readied for "overseas" none U.N. missions be staffed by continued voluntary service for "overseas" or will it be a case of the military personnel being ordered to go?


There is a fair few person who can be detailed that is what they signed up for.


The DF have closed the following 10 barracks since 1996 - Bde - size of PDF unit:
Fitzgerald Camp, Fermoy - S - Coy sized unit
Murphy Bks, Ballincollig - S - Bn sized unit
Magee Bks, Kildare - DFTC - Bn sized unit
Devoy Bks, Naas - DFTC - Coy sized unit (?)
Clancy Bks, Dublin - E - Bn sized unit (?)
Monaghan Bks - E - Coy sized unit
Castleblaney Mil Post - E - Coy sized unit
Connolly Bks, Longford - W - Coy sized unit
Lifford Mil Post - W - Coy sized unit
Rockhill House, Letterkenny - W Coy sized unit

Do you notice a trend?
At least 6 housed coy sized PDF units
In most cases the personnel had another barracks relatively close by to go to (but not in all)

ropebag
18th October 2011, 19:27
...And again with regards the down sizing of the military locations, will this mean that people living in certain areas of the country are to be denied access to the Reserve Defence Forces?...

its not the scouts, people - committed, resourseful people, will travel to RDF units if they believe that its worth doing so.

i know lots of people who travel over an hour to TA units, i know two who do a 250 mile round trip, and i know one who leaves work at 3pm to travel 200 miles, do a parade night, then stays with one of the other lads, or gets a travelodge, before driving 200 miles to go back to work in the morning.

hell, Cal Tanker flies to his USNG unit.

these people go to such effort because they belong to units where their training with will always progress, rather than stagnate and re-run, and whey they feel that they will, at some stage, be required to put that training into practice.

if people won't travel then you ought to ask if they have any real commitment to the organisation, and if they don't have that commitment to the RDF, you should ask why.

Connaught Stranger
18th October 2011, 19:34
Between 2000-2011 the PDF deployed troops to UNMEE, UNIFIL, UNMIL, UNTAET, EUFOR and KFOR.

It's not like Overseas vanished for 11 years.

But none of those Missions were as long lasting as U.N.I.F.I.L.


Speaking from experience with the EUBG, no other Units are not being sacrificed.

But who knows what tomorrow may bring, as this thread points out nothing in regards the Defence Forces is written in stone.



At the risk of sounding too harsh, it's an army at the end of the day. Troops will go where they're ordered to go. If I had my way, Units would be deploying instead of the system we use now.

Yes, maybe, but you do not have your way, and just where would you be deploying your troops too if I may be so bold.

Under the present legislation would you see a deployment of more than an Irish Battalion to Afghanistan, for the sake of argument?

Connaught Stranger.

Truck Driver
18th October 2011, 19:35
Gentlemen, thanks for your replies, its refreshing to have this discussion in such a dignified manner, if I may say

\:)|


The DF have closed the following 10 barracks since 1996 - Bde - size of PDF unit:
Fitzgerald Camp, Fermoy - S - Coy sized unit
Murphy Bks, Ballincollig - S - Bn sized unit
Magee Bks, Kildare - DFTC - Bn sized unit
Devoy Bks, Naas - DFTC - Coy sized unit (?)
Clancy Bks, Dublin - E - Bn sized unit (?)
Monaghan Bks - E - Coy sized unit
Castleblaney Mil Post - E - Coy sized unit
Connolly Bks, Longford - W - Coy sized unit
Lifford Mil Post - W - Coy sized unit
Rockhill House, Letterkenny - W Coy sized unit

I see Magee Bks featured on the news last night, with regards to vandalism of the
now abandoned facility

As if this is a new phenomenon, which unfortunately, it is not, and the nearby
residents have had to put up with all of the disruption which has occurred

I also a noted a former member of the PDF was interviewed in the piece

Wicklaman
18th October 2011, 19:38
By the way with regard the .22 Range in Castlebar the British used it for shooting .303!!

And so did I one quiet evening lost in the mists of time.

Since 1828 they also had two full size ranges outside the town, (Aughadrinagh?) one of which the Artillery detachment fired its cannon on, (Raheen Barr) must look up the location names in my files as I cant remember them off the top of my head.

Connaught Stranger

Cheers for that, CS. You never forget your first camp!

Wicklaman
18th October 2011, 19:43
OK so.

We will assume that the Senior officer in a barracks is a Lt Colonel.(Most manage to retain at least one).
He earns Up to €70,000 per year Plus Mil Service allowence
Commandant up to €64000
Captain up to €51513
Lt up to €39609
BSM up €797.73, or €41482 per year
BQMS up to €40475
CS up to €37086
CQMS up to €36458
Sgt up to €31345
Cpl up to €28394
A Private earns €442/week after 3 years service, that's €22984 a year.

Average, based on Rank alone, not proportion at that rank is €42122 or thereabouts.
If the Barracks Has a few colonels(like Clonmel) then you can see how the figure of €50k can be rounded off. Add All the allowences a soldier will get in barracks also, and you can reach an average of €50k.

It is the same twisted statistic that convinces the average Indo reader that all civil servants are earning €45k a year, when the top end of our scale is the Taoiseach on €300k a year.

Out of three possible meanings of the word "average" (mode, median and mean) you've picked the least common here. And your last paragraph makes no sense at all - what exactly are you trying to say here?

Wicklaman
18th October 2011, 19:45
The DF has to make 104m in cutbacks over four years (starting in 2009)

Grand so. Shut down the Ministerial Air Taxi Service for starters, and convert the VIP lounge in the Don to something more military.

Wicklaman
18th October 2011, 19:52
Actually, try adding in the cost of employers PRSI, lifetime pension cost and (as Victor says) the expenses for each soldier, and then see what the average cost to the State of having someone on the payroll is.

Also, the point he makes is entirely valid - there is little logic in having relatively small Barracks spread around the country, absorbing staff in basic admin tasks and reducing the effectiveness of the DF. The DF has spent the last 20 years closing these outposts, and concentrating resources in cities and larger towns - the closure of Columb Barracks is just another example of that.

The "average cost to the state" of ordinary working joes isn't that much in the round, when you consider that they pay taxes like everyone else, and spend most of the remainder of their earnings on local goods and services - unlike our luxury-purchasing middle class.

I do agree on rationalising units into the same barracks or post, so that they can be more efficient and effective - but there's a balance to be maintained with the flexibility of having a choice of properties around the country to put to use for training and exercises (not to mention recruiting for the Reserve, a gateway for many good people to join the PDF).

Hello Alaska
18th October 2011, 20:05
Yes, maybe, but you do not have your way, and just where would you be deploying your troops too if I may be so bold.

Under the present legislation would you see a deployment of more than an Irish Battalion to Afghanistan, for the sake of argument?

Connaught Stranger.

What's wrong with them not going on as long as our first twist in UNIFIL? The changing field and spectrum of the different missions we were deploying on is far more beneficial to the DF then getting stuck in just one mission.

Things certainly could change with regards to other Units being sacrificed for the sake of the EUBG etc. but so far they haven't and I see no reason why they would. If anything, the DF's participation in the likes of the EUBG's has been quite beneficial to us.

Troops would be deploying to wherever the Government wanted them to deploy.

There's no reason more Irish troops couldn't deploy to A'Stan. It'd take some work but there's no reason it couldn't ultimately be done.

hptmurphy
18th October 2011, 20:15
Murphy Bks, Ballincollig - S - Bn sized unit

Was a huge anomally given the range of facilities that were there, but the down side was the accomodation was in tatters and the proximity to Collins killed it off.

In another era all the smaller barracks were justifiable because of different circumstances, a poorer infrastructure and units were usually of better strenght.If you could field a full coy in the morning from any of the locations highlighted to host a full coy. I would be very surprised.

Connaught Stranger
18th October 2011, 20:17
What's wrong with them not going on as long as our first twist in UNIFIL? The changing field and spectrum of the different missions we were deploying on is far more beneficial to the DF then getting stuck in just one mission.

Things certainly could change with regards to other Units being sacrificed for the sake of the EUBG etc. but so far they haven't and I see no reason why they would. If anything, the DF's participation in the likes of the EUBG's has been quite beneficial to us.

Troops would be deploying to wherever the Government wanted them to deploy.

There's no reason more Irish troops couldn't deploy to A'Stan. It'd take some work but there's no reason it couldn't ultimately be done.

Lets be realistic here,

do you really think that a Irish Government who ordered a deployment to Afghanistan would ever survive to the next election? :-D

do you think the majority of Irish people who the Government represent would like to see the Irish Defence Forces deployed in Afghanistan?

can you even imagine the agitation that will take place if the bodies of Irish soldiers were being returned to Ireland on a regular basis for burial?

do you think that before any of the above could be done a program of reeducation with regards Ireland's stance on its Neutrality would have to be devised and put into practice?

You appear to be of the mind that the Irish military under Government control and their actions would NOT affect the lives of the ordinary man and woman in the street, particularly at this point in time when the economic crisis has barely begun to bite.

No matter of how you or I and some others might welcome the chance to boost the Irish Defence Forces to new heights lets be practical about it.

Connaught Stranger:biggrin:

RoyalGreenJacket
18th October 2011, 20:31
turn that on it's head mate - since Iraq and Afghanistan - the British Army in particular has never been so popular or well supported by the public.

the same can probably be said about the US and Canadian forces.

sometimes the darkest hour is indeed before dawn and to turn things around you have to go into the darkness.

i don't think the Irish public will let you down if things went wrong and you lost men, i think like in Britain they would support you more than ever.

give war a chance.

Goldie fish
18th October 2011, 20:33
Out of three possible meanings of the word "average" (mode, median and mean) you've picked the least common here. And your last paragraph makes no sense at all - what exactly are you trying to say here?

I used to work in statistics. What don't you understand?

DeV
18th October 2011, 20:58
If you could field a full coy in the morning from any of the locations highlighted to host a full coy. I would be very surprised.

You would have difficult for 2 reasons:
1 - they are all closed!
2 - when they were open, a number of the company would be on duty and resting off

DeV
18th October 2011, 20:59
This thread is about closing barracks, not overseas!

REX
19th October 2011, 00:27
turn that on it's head mate - since Iraq and Afghanistan - the British Army in particular has never been so popular or well supported by the public.


We're talking about Ireland here not Britain, we don't have the history of Imperial meddling, or going in to fight in countries where the local population don't want us. If we were to startseeing bodies at a rate of 2-3 per month there would be massive civil protests, especially as it's a war that is looking like dragging for the forseeable future.

It wouldn't come down to whether or not the people supported the DF, it would come down to the questioning of politicians by the electorate, the main question being why are we wasting money fighting a stupid war when we are stone broke and people are losing their homes over the money pumped into the banks.

Connaught Stranger
19th October 2011, 09:11
We're talking about Ireland here not Britain, we don't have the history of Imperial meddling, or going in to fight in countries where the local population don't want us. If we were to startseeing bodies at a rate of 2-3 per month there would be massive civil protests, especially as it's a war that is looking like dragging for the forseeable future.

It wouldn't come down to whether or not the people supported the DF, it would come down to the questioning of politicians by the electorate, the main question being why are we wasting money fighting a stupid war when we are stone broke and people are losing their homes over the money pumped into the banks.

Slightly off-topic, however,

I am afraid your comment shows you are judging the past with a view from today, and you fail to grasp the way of the world back then, in the period of the early 17th to late 18th Century, the modern European world was heavily involved in expansionism and particular with Colonization be it in the Americas, Asia or Africa Indies, etc.. etc..
this was not meddling, per-se, this was the way countries had of seeing what the world had to offer, a period of not only exploration but the seeking of riches and raw materiel's, In regards to the British, the East India Company was a classic example of securing your new found wealth, the regular Regiments of the British Army were used later to secure these items once treaties and alliances had been signed.

Also, there were many "Irish" men (that is men born on the Island of Ireland under British rule,) who were happy to serve under that British rule as members of the Civil Service and Foreign Office and even in the British Forces who were as much at the forefront of this expansionism, those who were seeking an independent Ireland were in the minority and has the Ireland gained its Independence in the 1920's it never had the experience of expanding beyond its borders as for most part the period of Colonial expansionism was over.

With regards "a stupid war" well that's your opinion and you have a right to air it, however, I would much rather see it being fought in the foothills and mountains of Afghanistan, where A.Q. had established training camps, than seeing large scale terror attacks mounted by Islamic Fundamentalists on the streets of Europe, or are you naive enough, too think a predominantly "Christian" country like Ireland would escape the attention of these people, who are not fighting against countries that oppose there fundamentalist ways in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc..etc.. but are willing to target any country who does NOT willingly show signs of converting to their particular beliefs.

Connaught Stranger.

hptmurphy
19th October 2011, 13:41
You would have difficult for 2 reasons:
1 - they are all closed!
2 - when they were open, a number of the company would be on duty and resting off

I was suggesting those bks that still remain open fielding Coy sized units with whatever attachments are with them.

RoyalGreenJacket
19th October 2011, 17:29
You would have difficult for 2 reasons:
1 - ......
2 - when they were open, a number of the company would be on duty and resting off

you need to get away form this practice of 'resting off' - it's got to be the biggest waste of money known to man - no wonder your barracks are closing when you have men getting paid for 'resting off' when they could be at work.

REX
19th October 2011, 18:29
you need to get away form this practice of 'resting off' - it's got to be the biggest waste of money known to man - no wonder your barracks are closing when you have men getting paid for 'resting off' when they could be at work.

You were quiet for a while but here you go again with "your way is stupid, the BA are great Blah Blah."

Who cares how you guys do it? We have to live with the way our bosses organise things, changes are under consideration but i'm sure if we need your help you'll get a direct call:rolleyes:

hedgehog
19th October 2011, 18:34
You were quiet for a while but here you go again with "your way is stupid, the BA are great Blah Blah."

Who cares how you guys do it? We have to live with the way our bosses organise things, changes are under consideration but i'm sure if we need your help you'll get a direct call:rolleyes:

Me likey


http://simplyzesty.com/wp-content/uploads//2011/06/facebook-like-buton.png

Bravo20
19th October 2011, 18:40
Well he has a point.

REX
19th October 2011, 18:43
Me likey


http://simplyzesty.com/wp-content/uploads//2011/06/facebook-like-buton.png

Now I know why you retired, No fingers, can't pull the trigger anymore:biggrin:

RoyalGreenJacket
19th October 2011, 18:49
You were quiet for a while but here you go again with "your way is stupid, the BA are great Blah Blah."

Who cares how you guys do it? We have to live with the way our bosses organise things, changes are under consideration but i'm sure if we need your help you'll get a direct call:rolleyes:

nothing to do with the British Army this one mate.

but anyone can see you are wasting untold money paying men sat at home 'resting off' whilst paying other men EXTRA money for doing routine duties while you have men 'resting off'.

i'm pretty sure if you scrapped 'resting off' days and binned the extra pay for CIT and Guard Duties then there might not be a need for this thread at all.

you only have so much money - you are paying soldiers extra money for routine duties then paying them to 'rest off' - total waste of money.

it's not my barracks they are closing mate.

hedgehog
19th October 2011, 18:50
Now I know why you retired, No fingers, can't pull the trigger anymore:biggrin:

Its true self abuse wears away fingers;

RoyalGreenJacket
19th October 2011, 19:09
bin the 'resting off' and extra duty pay across the Irish DF and guess what - you might have enough money to keep this barracks and others open.

DeV
19th October 2011, 19:10
Warning - back to the thread or points!


I was suggesting those bks that still remain open fielding Coy sized units with whatever attachments are with them.

Point 2 still holds then


you need to get away form this practice of 'resting off' - it's got to be the biggest waste of money known to man - no wonder your barracks are closing when you have men getting paid for 'resting off' when they could be at work.


nothing to do with the British Army this one mate.

but anyone can see you are wasting untold money paying men sat at home 'resting off' whilst paying other men EXTRA money for doing routine duties while you have men 'resting off'.

i'm pretty sure if you scrapped 'resting off' days and binned the extra pay for CIT and Guard Duties then there might not be a need for this thread at all.


It doesn't make sense to have a barracks with only a coy sized unit in it (duties is only 1 aspect of it), granted Columb doesn't fall into this category. Would it make sense in the British Army? Thats a retorical question!


Maybe it is something that the DF should look at RGJ but another aspect of it is that resting off means that the Irish soldier who in the vast majority of cases isn't living in barracks (unlike their British counter part). IMHO if they did the strength of a guard would have to be increased (to allow for rest etc) but it would be less than would be required to man a guard and rest off.

Hello Alaska
19th October 2011, 19:14
Whatever about midweek duties, If the DF wants me to do a 24 hour guard on a Saturday or Sunday, they can pay me for it.

midnight oil
19th October 2011, 20:03
you need to get away form this practice of 'resting off' - it's got to be the biggest waste of money known to man - no wonder your barracks are closing when you have men getting paid for 'resting off' when they could be at work.

it is an interesting method of doing things. do others organisations worldwide do it this way?

I would see a problem though where a guy could wind up on 2 or 3 duties in a row (much like happens in smaller bks with orderly officers who can rest at midnight) without a rest off, if this became widespread this could seriously reduce moral and effectiveness as fatigue sets in.

In an ideal world with decent sized barracks with good quantities of troops in them regimental duties would only be a tiny elemtent of the workload and units could get back to doing more exercises etc. but with ever increasing demands on troops and ever dwindling troop numbers the pressures of regimental duties are taking there toll, even in bigger barracks.

I think there is definite need for a reorg. The way we are organised geographically now is a throw back to how the brits garissoned the country, for which there is no need anymore.

I would be in favour of larger strategically located barracks. If people want to be in the DF, be it PDF or RDF then you go where the organisation needs you. This horseshite that i keep hearing about people giving out that they will no long live near where they work bugs me. if your too far away .... tough shit, move!

Victor
19th October 2011, 20:10
Does much training go on at Finner?
Yes! good point Coolmoney, and Kilworth, the latter which was upgraded, mainly to keep jobs in the East, the money spent on Kilworth could just have easily been spent on Castlebar Military Barracks, And where would units from the south train?


Kilworth as I recall was sandwiched between two active D.F. positions namely Kilkenny Barracks and Fermoy Barracks.I'm not sure what this point is. http://maps.google.ie/maps?saddr=Bridget%27s+St&daddr=52.2142679,-8.2722073+to:Castlecomer+Rd&hl=en&ll=52.46103,-7.624512&spn=0.794899,2.469177&sll=52.655405,-7.244453&sspn=0.024731,0.077162&geocode=FRKmGwMdrLWB_w%3BFfu5HAMdscaB_ykRgzo3s1lDS DGwJsf8pscAEw%3BFYqAIwMdJ2qR_w&vpsrc=6&mra=dme&mrsp=2&sz=14&via=1&t=m&z=9 (Kilworth marked as a waypoint) Kilworth also provides a training area for Cork, Limerick and Clonmel.


And it seems we have a mobile deploy-able force now (as long as its mainly located East of the Shannon and those few remaining units West of the Shannon can deploy their P.D.F. / R.D.F. for Camps in Kilworth for the foreseeable future.This sound vaguely like "won't someone thing of the poor wesht". Just how many security duties or (formal) training areas are there west of the Shannon?

They also have the same currency, meaning that flutuations in the currency rates do not make smuggling the lucrative endevour it is on the irish border.The predominant smuggling along the border is related to tax evasion - alcohol, tobacco and agricultural diesel and products that are illegal in one jurisdiction or the other, e.g. fireworks and drugs. There is a single market, just different taxes.


Your argument seems to favour the P.D.F. in a role it does not quite have down pat yet seeing as a minority of the Force has been/will be involved with missions outside of Ireland, at the expense of Internal Security, while Ireland has not got an armed police force or a police orientated gendarme, then of course the army will have to provide back-up.Note that hte Garda is much larger than it was during the troubles.


Again, if I may, the role of the Irish Defence Forces has been precisely that, of a Defence Force, and not a conventional military army suited for offensive actions as for example many European NATO Forces.Wew have the advantage of being an island beyond an island - look at how unsuccessful previous plans for invasion have been.


will it be a case of the military personnel being ordered to go?Haven't most of the DF been recruited ont eh basis that they can be sent overseas and a huge chunk of the others being willing to go anyway?


And again with regards the down sizing of the military locations, will this mean that people living in certain areas of the country are to be denied access to the Reserve Defence Forces?

I am well aware that nothing stays the same, for ever, but to my eyes its surprising how the people of the West have been written off with regards serving in the R.D.F. unless they happen to be located in Galway, Roscommon, Sligo, etc.. etc..Don't some RDF units train at non-military locations?

Craghopper
19th October 2011, 20:14
it is an interesting method of doing things. do others organisations worldwide do it this way?

I would see a problem though where a guy could wind up on 2 or 3 duties in a row (much like happens in smaller bks with orderly officers who can rest at midnight) without a rest off, if this became widespread this could seriously reduce moral and effectiveness as fatigue sets in.

In an ideal world with decent sized barracks with good quantities of troops in them regimental duties would only be a tiny elemtent of the workload and units could get back to doing more exercises etc. but with ever increasing demands on troops and ever dwindling troop numbers the pressures of regimental duties are taking there toll, even in bigger barracks.

I think there is definite need for a reorg. The way we are organised geographically now is a throw back to how the brits garissoned the country, for which there is no need anymore.

I would be in favour of larger strategically located barracks. If people want to be in the DF, be it PDF or RDF then you go where the organisation needs you. This horseshite that i keep hearing about people giving out that they will no long live near where they work bugs me. if your too far away .... tough shit, move!


I agree with you in most of what you said but the last paragraph I do not... Will the DF house me and my family if i was to be moved to Cork for instance?

Not a forking chance.....

danno
19th October 2011, 20:16
One has to wonder if Barracks closures are the payoff for the shiny Gin Palace HQ for the DOD,there was a fair bit of noise from RACO for the MA to also be concentrated in one locus and again are a few Barracks being sacrificed for reasons other than savings/efficiencies.
What cards will the MA have to play when they run out of barracks to shut..RDF? etc
A reorg may certainly be needed,every vibrant org needs one periodically but ad hoc random measures serve no purpose.
A close look is needed at certain CS/CSS units to esblish if they are needed for a modern force,Midnight et al point out that legacy barracks from imperial days are not needed now likewise imperial trappings should be looked at,eg dedicted bands,Pony club.the digger the mil justice set up etc.

Reorg,yes,but in a balanced and effective fashion.

midnight oil
19th October 2011, 20:21
I agree with you in most of what you said but the last paragraph I do not... Will the DF house me and my family if i was to be moved to Cork for instance?

Not a forking chance.....

i refer you to the last line in my previous


if your too far away .... tough shit, move!

I had to when i joined the DF.

i mean no offence to anyone when i make this point:
From what I see a major obstacle within the DF is getting other ranks to move where the DF needs them. Officers are rutinely moved at very short notice. i know of people moved from the curragh to finner, dublin to galway, curragh to dundalk etc etc

RoyalGreenJacket
19th October 2011, 20:22
I agree with you in most of what you said but the last paragraph I do not... Will the DF house me and my family if i was to be moved to Cork for instance?

Not a forking chance.....

close the barracks and build some married quarters near each remaining barracks - or in the current climate there may even be 'ghost estates' with empty houses ready to be occupied at good rates by the DOD close to remaining barracks

this would re-enforce your existing barracks and allow a career which takes you and your family across the length and breadth of the country.

hedgehog
19th October 2011, 20:25
i refer you to the last line in my previous



I had to when i joined the DF.

i mean no offence to anyone when i make this point:
From what I see a major obstacle within the DF is getting other ranks to move where the DF needs them. Officers are rutinely moved at very short notice. i know of people moved from the curragh to finner, dublin to galway, curragh to dundalk etc etc

Yes but the same Officers only had to put on the Cadet School ring and they were guaranteed Comdt at some stage- so its not really like for like is is?

However I agree with your large Barracks idea- and just because I dont agree with some of your post doesnt mean you dont have the right to put them forward,

after all you serve or have served in the Defence Forces.

midnight oil
19th October 2011, 20:26
Yes but the same Officers only had to put on the Cadet School ring and they were guaranteed Comdt at some stage.

not anymore .......... unfortunately

Craghopper
19th October 2011, 20:36
i refer you to the last line in my previous



I had to when i joined the DF.

i mean no offence to anyone when i make this point:
From what I see a major obstacle within the DF is getting other ranks to move where the DF needs them. Officers are rutinely moved at very short notice. i know of people moved from the curragh to finner, dublin to galway, curragh to dundalk etc etc

That wouldn't have anything to do with yee are Civil servants and we public servants would it?

Again I disagree with you.. We simply do not have the infrastructure within the confines of a Bks to house "other ranks".. They do on the other hand have to house Officers..not all obviously but some.

RoyalGreenJacket
19th October 2011, 20:43
We simply do not have the infrastructure within the confines of a Bks to house "other ranks".. They do on the other hand have to house Officers..not all obviously but some.

close a few barracks - build a few accommodation blocks in the remaining barracks for junior ranks and small or even combined messes for SNCO's (most are married at that stage of life) and Officers.

hopefully there can be a trade off and not all bad news.

midnight oil
19th October 2011, 20:43
very few officers married quarters left nowaday. and if Michael Howard has his way there will be no accomodation of any type on any post. He doesnt see how the DF is different to any other public sector job and why we would need to have troops available on very short notice

Craghopper
19th October 2011, 20:50
bin the 'resting off' and extra duty pay across the Irish DF and guess what - you might have enough money to keep this barracks and others open.

Mate- FYI, I asked a US Friend in the USAF stationed in the UK regarding this and he said EVERYONE in the US Mil, do more or less the same as us..

If they work up to 3am they don't show up until 3pm or sometimes not at all...

hptmurphy
19th October 2011, 21:06
build a few accommodation blocks in the remaining barracks for junior ranks

Policy locally is/was to encourage 'Single Living In' to move out and fund their own accom. in order to reduce running costs in bks.

Victor
19th October 2011, 21:07
One has to wonder if Barracks closures are the payoff for the shiny Gin Palace HQ for the DOD,there was a fair bit of noise from RACO for the MA to also be concentrated in one locus and again are a few Barracks being sacrificed for reasons other than savings/efficiencies.I think you are connecting unrelated issues.

The new DoD HQ was part of the decentralisation process (started 2003) which FF wanted to use to improve specific locations* so they could effectively buy elections. Nothing to do with barrack closures or rationalisation.


* The choice of locations was based on "if we spend money in a location, where will it have the most impact locally".

REX
19th October 2011, 21:09
close a few barracks - build a few accommodation blocks in the remaining barracks for junior ranks and small or even combined messes for SNCO's (most are married at that stage of life) and Officers.

hopefully there can be a trade off and not all bad news.

We're supposed to save money, not spend it on building decent accom for both married and single pers, but i agree it would make sense.
In fact i think all soldiers who are moved to another bks against their will should demand living-in accomadation, then stand back and watch the panic when they try to find room for them! they might house a handful of single personnel but married? no chance!

RoyalGreenJacket
19th October 2011, 21:29
Mate- FYI, I asked a US Friend in the USAF stationed in the UK regarding this and he said EVERYONE in the US Mil, do more or less the same as us..

If they work up to 3am they don't show up until 3pm or sometimes not at all...

compare the US DOD's budget to the Irish DOD's budget.

they have that luxury.

anyhow, don't the USAF mostly do shift work? the US Army in Germany did the same as we do and i don't think they got extra pay for guard duties etc.

if you are trying to save a barracks by saving money - then cutting extra duty pay and 'resting off' days would be a good start.