Army wives slam minister’s ‘arrogance’ in barracks talks

Aileen Hahesy

Aileen Hahesy

Kickham Barracks Army Wives & Partners Group took their campaign to stop the closure of the Clonmel army barracks to the Dail last week where they claim a heated argument erupted during their meeting with Fine Gael Minister of State Paul Keogh.

A representative of the group accused the Minister of State for Defence and Fine Gael Chief Whip of arrogance after the meeting but Fine Gael TD Tom Hayes, who was present, denied there was any row and insisted it was just a difference of opinion.

“He (Minister Keogh) told them the decision was made and the decision wasn’t changing. There was just a frank exchange of views and he told them the position that when a decision was made by the Cabinet it’s not changed,” said Deputy Hayes.

Eleanor Prout, a member of the Army Wives & Partners Group, said the minister was very arrogant. The delegation sought information from the Minister about the financial reasons for closing Kickham Barracks but he informed them they could be waiting 20 years to access such sensitive information.

“He also said there would be no job losses due to the closure of the barracks and I asked him what category did those soldiers who would have to retire or emigrate due to the closure fall into.”

Ms Prout also expressed amazement that Minister Keogh maintained there wasn’t any tangible evidence that the closure of the barracks will effect business. The four strong delegation from the Army Wives & Partners Group was accompanied by representatives of the soldiers representative group PDFORRA during their meetings with opposition parties, independents and representatives of Labour and Fine Gael at the Dail last Wednesday, December 14.

Mayor of Clonmel Darren Ryan and his predecessor Fianna Fail Cllr Siobhan Ambrose also travelled to the Dail for the series of meetings where they were joined by local TDs Seamus Healy, Mattie McGrath, Tom Hayes, Senators Denis Landy and Labhras O Murchu.

The Army Wives & Partners Group met Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, Sinn Fein, the United Left Alliance, the Labour Parliamentary Party Chairman Jack Wall and and Minister Keogh and put a comprehensive case to all of them for keeping Kickham Barracks open.

The Army Wives & Partners Group said they will be releasing a comprehensive statement about the outcome of their lobbying campaign at the Dail in the next few days.