Barracks closures 'folly in light of Brexit fallout'
Published 06/10/2016 | 02:30
Government ministers have been warned they will realise the folly of their decision to shut down six military barracks in the Border region when Brexit negotiations get under way with the UK authorities.
Leaders of PDFORRA, the representative association for soldiers, sailors and air crew, said they had indicated at the time of the closures that the decision would be regretted.
Association general secretary Gerry Rooney told its annual conference in Cork that they had no idea then that the UK would vote to withdraw from the EU, with its implications for the Border.
But he said they were concerned at the closures because of the ever-changing security environment in Northern Ireland.
The barracks at Lifford; Rockhill, Letterkenny; Cavan; Monaghan; Castleblayney and Longford were shut as part of a major re-organisation of the Defence Forces that began in 2012.
"We argued strongly against the closures," Mr Rooney added, "because we felt it was too early to be moving away from the Border, as anything could happen that would require our involvement there again."
Junior Minister with special responsibility for defence Paul Kehoe said British Prime Minister Theresa May had made it clear during discussions with Taoiseach Enda Kenny that she did not believe there would be a hard Border after Brexit, and Mr Kenny held the same view.
He said he respected the views of the representative associations but the Government also had a job to do.
Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, said he could not comment on the likely fallout from Brexit, as it was a political issue.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire, told the British Conservative party conference in Birmingham yesterday: "We will work to ensure that Northern Ireland's unique interests are protected."