Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Question 76: To ask the Minister for Defence if the closure of a major barracks in Dublin, as indicated in the report of the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes, is under review by him; the name of the barracks; the expected timescale for closure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2126/10]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 76 and 111 together.
The Defence Forces' property portfolio is kept under review by my Department to ensure the most effective use of military resources having regard to the roles assigned by Government to the forces. The closure of Army barracks and the consolidation of Defence Forces formations into a smaller number of locations is a key objective of the White Paper on Defence. The dispersal of personnel over an extended number of locations is a major impediment to essential collective training. It also imposes increased and unnecessary overheads on the Defence Forces in terms of barrack management, administration, maintenance and security.
In the context of the 2009 budget, the Government approved the closure of four barracks at Monaghan, Longford, Rockhill and Lifford in County Donegal, as well as at St. Bricin's Hospital in Dublin. The four barracks closed at the end of January 2009. The closure of St. Bricin's is linked to the planned decentralisation of Defence Forces headquarters to the Curragh. The report of the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes noted that my Department has identified 33 properties for disposal. The disposal of these will take account of market conditions in order to maximise the return to the Defence Forces and generate funding for reinvestment in Defence Forces equipment and infrastructure.
The future of Cathal Brugha Barracks and the question of any further consolidation across the Defence Forces as a whole are among the issues being considered having regard to the report of the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes. Cathal Brugha Barracks is a significant military installation with a broad range of facilities, accommodation and storage depots. The special group noted that: "Given the scale of any relocation, the provision of alternative accommodation would entail a significant up-front cost and a lead time of some years." This will be factored into our consideration, particularly in the current financial situation. Consideration will also be given to the operational requirements of the Defence Forces. It is unlikely that Cathal Brugha Barracks will be disposed of in the next four to five years.
The funding realised from the disposal of surplus property, together with pay savings, has provided resources for the modernisation of the Defence Forces and has been invested in new infrastructure, equipment and training area development. Properties that are considered surplus to military requirements will continue to be disposed of and the funding invested to meet the current and future equipment and infrastructure needs of the Defence Forces.