Fears are mounting that Kickham Barracks in Clonmel will be closed as part of the Government’s austerity measures with the issue of army barracks “consolidation” on the agenda for next Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.
Rumours that the Government is on the brink of announcing the closure of the barracks have been circulating over the past week with Clonmel based Independent TD Seamus Healy reporting that he has received a lot of calls from concerned and worried families of soldiers based at the barracks.
And speculation mounted as Minister for Housing and Planning Willie Penrose accused army chiefs of “crass stupidity” over a proposal was made to close the Columb Military Barracks in Mullingar.
Government ministers were scheduled to discuss army barracks rationalisation at the Cabinet meeting yesterday (Tuesday) but they didn’t manage to reach the issue and it was deferred until next Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.
Fine Gael TD Tom Hayes met with Justice, Equality & Defence Minister Alan Shatter in the Dail after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting and appealed to him to keep open the Clonmel barracks where an estimated 200 Defence Forces personnel are based.
“The gloves are off as far as I am concerned,” he declared. “Kickham Barracks is a vital part of Clonmel’s infrastructure and I am fighting Clonmel’s corner for it to be saved. If the barracks closes it will have a big impact on the town’s economy and I am asking the Minister are there other ways costs can be saved.”
He said he questioned the cost savings such a closure would achieve as he understood there wouldn’t be any redundancies as Defence Forces personnel would be transferred to other barracks.
Deputy Seamus Healy has also pledged to oppose as strongly as he can any move to close Kickham Barracks.
He reported there had been alot of rumour and worry about the future of Kickham Barracks over the past week and he received a lot of calls from concerned family members of soldiers based at the barracks as well as serving and retired soldiers.
“People who would have an interest in the barracks have been onto me on a daily basis,” he said.