I propose to take Questions Nos. 7 and 11 together.
The closure of barracks and 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.
In the context of the 2009 budget, the Government approved the closure of four barracks at Monaghan, Longford, Rockhill and Lifford in County Donegal, and also St. Bricin's Hospital in Dublin. The four barracks closed at the end of January 2009. The closure of St. Bricin's is linked to the planned decentralisation of Defence Forces headquarters to the Curragh.
Following the closures, my Department contacted all other Departments to enquire if they or the agencies operating under their aegis wished to acquire any of the properties. Arising from that process, there have been ongoing discussions between my Department and Longford and Monaghan VECs, the Department of Education and Science and the Garda authorities in respect of the former barracks. These discussions are now at an advanced stage and will, I hope, be concluded shortly. Those premises that are not required by other State agencies or Departments will be advertised for sale by way of public tender.
With regard to costs arising from the closures, most of the costs at the level of the individual soldier are once-off or short-term costs arising from payment of change of station allowances and the provision of transport on a temporary basis. Actual expenditure on change of station allowances can only be determined once all claims have been received and processed. While some claims have been received, a number of personnel have not yet submitted a claim. As a result, the full cost is not yet available. The evacuation and movement of personnel and equipment from the closed barracks to the new locations was completed using Defence Force transport and, as such, no substantive additional costs were incurred in the move.
Since being closed, the costs incurred to date in 2009 at Monaghan Barracks are as follows: utilities — €17,500; provision of security — €3,462. The costs in relation to Longford are: maintenance and repairs, etc. — €7,075; utilities — €8,546; provision of security — €1,530. The costs for Rockhill are: maintenance and repairs, etc. — €9,220; utilities — €5,065; provision of security — €5,754. The costs for Lifford are: maintenance and repairs etc. — €7,900; utilities — €2,822; provision of security — €2,128.
The cost of providing additional building work and renovations at the receiving barracks to allow for the accommodation of troops moving to their new locations amounted to some €470,000. It is anticipated that further expenditure of €1.8 million will arise for the provision and upgrading of some accommodation and locker facilities in the receiving barracks.
Apart from the non-financial benefits of the closures, the costs mentioned will be more than off-set by recurring annual savings estimated at €2.6 million a year, mainly on security duties, utilities and maintenance costs. This does not take into account the proceeds from the sale of the four barracks. In addition to the four barracks closed in January the former McGee Barracks in Kildare remains in the ownership of my Department. This is the subject of a separate question. No expenditure is being incurred in respect of this barracks at present.