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Army uneasy over housing land pledge

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  • Army uneasy over housing land pledge

    Army uneasy over housing land pledge
    The Irish Independent
    Senan Molony
    Political Correspondent

    A PLEDGE by the Taoiseach to include 309 acres of Department of Defence land in a new social housing drive was last night met with unease in army circles.

    Mr Ahern's promise, in a speech to a plenary meeting of the social partners, would appear to mean the evacuation of Gormanston camp in Co Meath. "The Defence Forces would be anxious to keep it," a spokesman declared last night.

    The Taoiseach said the Government would be making a decision on four plots of land for affordable housing by the end of September "at the latest".

    They include lands at Gormanston, the former Magee Barracks in Kildare, and two small OPW sites at Infirmary Road and Jamestown Road in Dublin.

    Mr Ahern said the actions would demonstrate to any doubters that the Government was "deadly serious" about solving the problem of affordable housing.

    The plan would mean that virtually the whole of the army and Air Corps lands at Gormanston, comprising 260 acres, would have to be surrendered.

    The Department of Defence has been campaigning to hand over only 200 acres of the site, while keeping the 58-acre camp.

    A spokesman for the Department of Defence said last night that the Defence Forces would be eager to get something in return for the Magee Barracks disposal, having previously been promised that army properties would go towards new equipment. He pointed out that five helicopters had been cancelled last year.

    Meanwhile, Junior Minister Tom Parlon, who has overseen a review of the State property portfolio, told the Irish Independent last night that 500-600 homes could be built on the two OPW sites to be developed in Inchicore and Infirmary Road.

    He added: "Identifying new sites would have to be addressed by all Government Departments." None has yet been pinpointed, despite the Taoiseach saying yesterday that there had been agreement in principle that further State lands would be released.

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