After closing Kickham Barracks last year, the government has moved to sever the last link Clonmel has with the Defence forces by removing the Reserve Defence Forces base from the town.
It deals a further body blow to the town and to South Tipperary following the loss of Kickham Barracks.
Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter announced that the Reserve Defence Force post will not be retained in Clonmel following a Value for Money Review of the RDF.
Since Kickham Barracks closed, the RDF in Clonmel have been using a rented Eircom premises in the town for meetings and trainings on a weekly basis.
Now those RDF personnel will be asked to re-locate to Cork following the Minister’s announcement which came after he had given the go ahead for Kickham Barracks to be used as a site for a new garda station and offices of the County Council, VEC and LIT.
However there will be no place for the RDF at Kickham Barracks following the release of the Minister’s plan to downsize the RDF and give it a reduced geographical spread. Units will be amalgamated and closed to facilitate the reform.
Making the announcement, Minister Shatter said that while the closure of many reserve locations was regrettable, the findings of the review and the reality of the resources demanded reform.
Condemning the move, Deputy Mattie McGrath claimed that the base was being removed from Clonmel while it was being kept in much smaller towns such as Castlebar, the Taoiseach’s home town, and said that questions must be raised as to why Clonmel has been ignored.
“This Government has once again ignored Clonmel and the rich military history that the town has, not to mention the volunteers based in Clonmel who will now be expected to travel to Cork if they wish to continue their training” said McGrath.
“It is a total insult to these volunteers who give so much of their time to the Defence forces. It will discourage people from either getting involved or staying involved with the FCA as people simply won’t have the time or resources to travel to Cork for weekly training.”
Deputy McGrath said that Clonmel has a perfectly suitable base for the RDF in the former Kickham Barracks site and with the Government’s plans to re-locate Clonmel Garda Station and other organisations to that site.
“It would make perfect sense to retain the Reserve Defence Forces base on the Kickham Barracks site in Clonmel and at least retain some of the military history in Clonmel” he claimed.
“The Defence Forces have been a huge part of life in Clonmel and surrounding areas, but this Government seems intent on deleting that tradition, ignoring the town and ignoring the volunteers who give their time and dedication so freely to the reserve defence forces.” said Deputy McGrath.
A statement from the Department of Defence said there were fifty three members of the Reserve Defence Forces attached to the Reserve Unit in Clonmel. Unfortunately given the number of locations involved it is no longer possible to retain a Reserve presence in all current locations.