Speaking today in the Seanad on a private members motion on the issue of barracks closures, Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly said the government argument that it is has no choice but to close the barracks is untrue.
Senator Reilly said:
“How dare the Government condemn any person for standing shoulder to shoulder with their local communities’; for representing their friends, colleagues and neighbours? I went to school with families of soldiers, I socialise with them, I play sports with them. We in Sinn Féin are not the ones playing politics with people’s lives under the pretext that it is the final dictat of the troika.
“The Dáil debate on this issue was dominated by the narrative that Ireland has no choices. That is untrue. The Government is free to adjust the terms of the bailout agreement on condition that the final outcome remains the fiscal adjustment to which the agreement commits Ireland.
“Was it not the Minister’s party who campaigned and got elected on a mandate of ‘we will renegotiate’, ‘we will get a better deal?’
“On the issue of costs and savings, there is no economic gain from closing barracks like in Cavan. What does Minister Howlin have to say in relation to his comprehensive spending review when you look at the costs of paying extra travelling allowances to approximately 600 people for up to nine months, or the substantial capital investments that will be needed in other barracks to accommodate those who are dislocated, or the substantial security and maintenance bill for the closed sites?
“If you look at Dún Úi Neill Barracks in Cavan and its location – already the recession in the private sector has left its mark with empty retail sites littering the Dublin road and now this Government wants to close this state of the art facility, hitting the area a final knock out blow.
“That doesn’t sound like savings to me or the best possible return for the country. Not least when the reality is that no financial gain could be made from the sale of a barracks or a closed barracks in the current property market.
“A further displacement by soldiers and their families with all that entails is grossly unfair and may force some to leave. Is the dole queue their only future? What will a serving member who is already in negative equity do? The towns involved are the towns where people bought homes for record prices during the boom. But will there be a bail out of these men and women and their families?
“Shutting these barracks is not the answer. And the rouse of savings, of no alternatives and of appeasing the troika will not wash.” ENDS