Cork South Central Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath has called on the Minister for Justice and Defence Alan Shatter to urgently confirm his plans for the future of Collins Barracks after military personnel at the barracks were given private briefings this week which completely contradict statements by the Minister just three weeks ago.
Deputy McGrath stated, “Last month, when announcing the re-organisation of the Defence Forces, Minister Shatter confirmed that the number of personnel based at Collins Barracks would fall by 64 from 1020 to 956. However, I understand that members of the 4th Infantry Battalion, which is being disbanded by the Minister, and the Logistics HQ based at Collins Barracks were advised this week that up to 250 of them would be transferred to Limerick and Kilkenny between September and November this year.
“If this is true, it strikes me an intensely political move with Ministers in Limerick and Kilkenny looking after their bases. It begs the question, what are Cork based Ministers doing to protect the interests of our city and county? I really hope this doesn’t turn into yet another broken promise by this government.
“Some of the members I spoke to speculated that when Officers are added in to the mix, there could be up to 300 personnel leaving Collins Barracks. Obviously, if anything like this were to come to pass, it would be devastating news for the families concerned, for the future of Collins Barracks and for the local economy in Cork.
“The members of the Defence Forces based at Collins Barracks and their families deserve to get an immediate clarification from Minister Shatter as to what exactly is going on. How can the Minister promise that Collins Barracks would lose no more than 64 jobs while just three weeks later personnel are being told that 250 of them will have to transfer?
“I understand that Commandants from the 4th Infantry Battalion briefed Privates, Corporals and Non-Commissioned Officers, this week on the transfers and the members present were totally shocked at what they heard. I very much hope that the Minister will reassure the members based at Collins Barracks that his commitment of three weeks ago still stands.”