Future of barracks remains unclear

The future of Connolly Barracks remains unclear as Longford County Council have so far been unable to reach an agreement with the Department of Defence over its acquisition.

The future of Connolly Barracks remains unclear as Longford County Council have so far been unable to reach an agreement with the Department of Defence over its acquisition.

Speaking at the recent council meeting, Director of Services Frank Sheridan said the impasse is about the two councils’ inability to meet the asking price or to agree a leasing agreement that the councils could pay.

Mr Sheridan said the council was committed to continuing negotiations and suggested that the two councils should schedule a joint meeting of the local authorities in April “to make some firm decisions around where we go in relation to the barracks”.

At that stage, a new government and minister is expected to be in place, when it’s hoped more leniency might be shown towards the councils.

Cllr Peggy Nolan slammed what she described as a u-turn. She said that following a meeting with the then Minister for Defence, Tony Killeen, the only thing sought from the council was a feasibility study. She said he was told at the time that the council had no money, which she said did not appear to be an issue.

“There were exciting aspects to that feasibility study that could only promote this town and show it at its best,” she said.

Cllr Nolan said it was vital to secure the barracks for future generations of the town.

She said when she met the Minister, he was onside with the plan and told the finance officer with the department that despite the council not having money, “we’re going to go ahead with this and give them every chance”.

“He did but the Department of Defence were looking for a very sizeable sum so he (Minister) was overruled,” said Cllr Paul Connell.

Speaking to the Leader this week, following the various ministerial appointments, Cllr Peggy Nolan said she will seek a meeting with the new Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter “as soon as possible”.