I propose to take Questions Nos. 72, 74, 75, 79, 94, 116, 121, 123, 125, 130 and 132 together.
The military authorities have conducted a detailed review of the immediate requirements to enable the closure of the relevant barracks and the redeployment of personnel to their new locations. In addition, medium-term capital works required in Athlone, Dundalk and Finner, to accommodate the transferring personnel in the longer term, have also been identified. Planning is currently ongoing to acquire whatever facilities are necessary, which I am advised are fairly minimal, to ensure that everything necessary is in place to accommodate the transferring personnel before the closure date of the end of January.
There are significant facilities already available in these new locations. The immediate costs involved in providing the necessary additional facilities at all three locations is less than €500,000. Including allowances and transport, the cost over 15 months is approximately €3.2 million, against annual recurring savings of approximately €2.7 million. Over a three year period based on current estimates, the cost to the Department of closing the proposed barracks would amount to approximately €5.9 million while total receipts savings, including receipts from the disposal of the relevant properties, should amount to around €29.5 million, a net gain of €23.6 million. These figures do not take account of the qualitative benefits accruing to the Defence Forces from improvements in collective training, savings on administration and management of the barracks being closed or the costs of currently transporting troops from the barracks being closed for training, etc.
The consolidation of the Defence Forces formations into a smaller number of locations is a key objective of the White Paper on Defence. The dispersal of personnel over an extended number of locations is a major impediment to essential collective training. It also imposes increased and unnecessary overheads on the Defence Forces in terms of barrack management, administration, maintenance and security. The consolidation process is designed to facilitate higher training standards, while also freeing up under-utilised resources and personnel for operational duties.
The funding previously realised from the disposal of surplus barracks and properties has, together with pay savings, provided some of the resources required for infrastructure, training-area development and equipment procurement. It is my intention that the funding and savings from this initiative will, in accordance with current Government policy, again be reinvested in the Defence Forces.
In terms of the socio-economic impact on local communities from the closure plans, I would anticipate that this should be negligible. Most of the personnel serving in these installations live in the areas and will continue to do so in future. Indeed, the closures could benefit the areas as the barracks are redeveloped, which was the experience of the last consolidation process.
At the request of the representative associations my Department did arrange for the briefing of personnel at Longford and Monaghan Barracks and Rockhill and Lifford military posts on the change of station allowance entitlements. The purpose of these briefings is to give an outline of the change of station allowance scheme to the relevant personnel and to address as far as possible any issues of concern that may arise.
The Chief of Staff has visited each of the barracks to meet personnel. Staff concerns can also be put forward through partnership and representative arrangements. If there are issues arising these will be brought to my attention and will be addressed in the appropriate manner. I have also met with a number of delegations comprising local representatives and Members of Dáil Éireann from the areas and have explained the situation to them as best I could.