State asks struggling council to buy army barracks
A CASH-strapped local council has been targeted by the State in its attempts to sell off an army barracks before the soldiers leave.
The Department of Defence offered to sell the 16-acre site of Kickham barracks in Clonmel to South Tipperary County Council.
With a fall-off in revenue, the council is unlikely to be able to afford to buy the town-centre site, which is estimated to be valued at millions of euro.
However, the department has invited them to view the property regardless.
Kickham barracks is one of three full-time Army barracks and a Reserve post being shut down because of cutbacks.
In a letter, the department asked if the local authority would be "interested in acquiring Clonmel Barracks at agreed commercial valuations".
It does not state the price of the property but says it "will be vacated" by some 200 soldiers by the end of March 2012. Three other barracks -- in Mullingar, Cavan and Castlebar -- are also to be sold.
"It is proposed that all of the properties, including Clonmel, will be disposed of, taking account of market conditions, so as to maximise the return to the Defence Forces for reinvestment in equipment and infrastructure," the letter added.
It goes on to state that in advance of "initiating a public disposal process", the department was enquiring to see if the local authority was interested in purchasing the site.
Members of South Tipperary County Council, however, expressed fury at the offer, which was made just a week after the closure of the barracks was made public.
They believe the offer to the council is premature, coming ahead of an important meeting between the Kickham Barracks Army Wives and Partners Committee.
Clonmel mayor Darren Ryan criticised the department for sending out this letter when they had failed to reply to correspondence from public representatives about the closure.
The department issued a statement to the Irish Independent, saying that all government departments were canvassed "to see if they or any of their agencies wish to acquire the property".
"Following that process any remaining property will be disposed of by the department, taking account of the market conditions so as to maximise the return to the Defence Forces," it added.