Connolly Barracks closure cost €1.3m

The total cost of closing Connolly Barracks set the Government back over €1.3m.

The total cost of closing Connolly Barracks set the Government back over €1.3m.

Figures obtained by the Leader under the Freedom of Information Act show Department of Defence officials spent €1,308,747 shutting down the facility since former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan went public on the decision in October 2008.

The figures also show similar decisions affecting Cavan and Mullingar barracks last year have so far accumulated outlays of over €932,000.

Department officials revealed in excess of €1.3 has been spent since January 2009, when 130 members of the 4th Cavalry Squadron sped past its gates for the last time.

A large chunk of the outlay, or approximately €1.22m, was shelled out on relocation costs alone. Almost €1.1m of this figure came as a result of providing “additional facilities” at Custume Barracks in Athlone where many of the 130 troops are now stationed.

A further €143,702 was spent providing allowances to military personnel while bills of €80,544 were racked up for utility, fencing and other costs associated with the barracks’ closure.

Details of the findings follow a deal agreed by the Government and Longford Local Authorities to sign over the barracks’ remaining ten acres for €450,000 in May.

Longford VEC acquired the other four acres for around €1.1m in October 2009, but because both agreements were effectively footed by government money (Department of Environment and Department of Education), little or no cost savings were accrued.

Longford Westmeath TD James Bannon said he expected the figures would be high, but was quick to point out Connolly Barracks’ long term future had been decided when the Fine Gael/Labour coalition were on the opposition benches.

“They (costs) don’t surprise me at all,” he said on Monday evening. “I said it would cost a lot of money at the time and that’s how it has turned out.”

The Department of Defence, meanwhile, has said it expects to make “efficiency gains” of around €5m each year in relation to the closure of Cavan, Mullingar, Clonmel and Castlebar barracks as well as additional cash savings of approximately €1.3m.