The now empty Kickham Barracks has been suggested as a perfect location for Clonmel Gardai, VEC offices, business incubation units and a central public plaza, where the barrack’s monuments would be maintained for the town.
At last week’s meeting of the county council the options were highlighted, with the hope that Minister Alan Shatter will look favourably on this proposal.
Kickham Barracks was raised by several councillors, who asked the county manager to outline what proposals, if any, were being prepared for the site.
Councillors were told that a meeting took place between officials from the Department of Justice, officials from the county council and Deputy Tom Hayes, in February. At that time it was agreed the council would “facilitate and coordinate the potential requirements outlined by the potential users of the site.”
The council is now gathering all the necessary information and it is hoped that an outline of a framework plan would be presented to those who are interested in the site.
“The development of the site has to be in the context of the value it can add to Clonmel and particularly the town centre,” county secretary John O’Mahoney said in a reply to councillors. The plan must also take into account the listed status of the buildings and its history.
Once the plan is more clear it would be put before the councillors, he added.
Cllr Darren Ryan said there was concern among people in Clonmel what was happening to the site.
Cllr Tom Acheson said the issue could not keep drifting and somebody would have to “grasp the nettle and take control.”
The site would be perfect for a third level institution, Cllr Joe Brennan suggested, saying it could be used for a Chinese cultural and education centre.
Cllr Bobby Fitzgerald, however, siad he found that suggestion offensive, that the Chinese government were responsible for gross violations of human rights, they had “basically kidnapped the Dalai Lama” and that the Irish Army, who had been based in the barracks, were defenders of people and their rights.
Cllr Siobhan Ambrose said she hopes Minister Alan Shatter would look favourable on the gardai and the VEC for the future use of the site.
“Most of all what we need to do is make sure the barracks gets the best use. I have no problem what goes in there.” He said there was also a lot of room for start up businesses and there are plans to keep the central square as a plaza where the barrack’s monuments could be retained.
County Manager, Billy McEvoy, said he shared the councillors’ concerns for the site. He said he hoped to have a time line for the plan for the site by the end of this month, or a little later.
Mr McEvoy said the Department of Defence want to keep the barracks as one site and put it on the market, but he had told them it was not as simple as that. The council would like to see a framework document that would have a vision for the town.
He added that he has spoken to the local garda superintendent and the council are doing all they can to push the plan “in that direction.”