I propose to take Questions Nos. 3 to 5, inclusive, together.
The consolidation of the Defence Forces formations into a smaller number of locations is a key objective in the ongoing defence modernisation programme and has been recommended in many reports over the past number of years. This was a key consideration of the Government in addressing this issue as releasing personnel from security and support functions enables the operational capacity of the Defence Forces to be maintained notwithstanding the fall in strength. As with previous rounds of consolidation under the Defence Forces modernisation programme, barracks, once vacated, are being disposed of with the proceeds being used to fund the upgrading of Defence Forces equipment and infrastructure.
Military personnel occupied on security and support functions within the four barracks closed on 30 March 2012 have been released for operational duties leading to an efficiency gain of around €5 million per annum. In addition, there are direct cash savings of approximately €1.3 million per annum arising from utilities, maintenance and security duty allowances in the four barracks.
Since the announcement of the Government's decision on barrack closures, my Department has written to each Department, various agencies and local authorities seeking expressions of interest in acquiring any of the properties to benefit the local community as a whole but with particular emphasis on job creation measures. As a result, I can confirm that agreement has been reached with Mayo County Council for the purchase of Mitchell Barracks, Castlebar. The council has already taken over the property under a caretaker agreement pending full completion of the necessary legal paperwork to complete the transfer of title.
There have also been discussions between officials from my Department and a number of other State agencies on the sale of Kickham Barracks, Clonmel, and Cavan. However, these discussions are still ongoing. Some discussion has also taken place on Mullingar Barracks but no substantial progress has been made towards achieving a sale. Every effort will be made to dispose of the barracks so as to maximise the benefits to the local community.
When barracks close, there is an onus on my Department to provide necessary security and undertake maintenance and upkeep as required. Security fencing is under way at some of the barracks at a total estimated cost of €130,000. Temporary additional security measures have also been put in place at a cost of €40,000 to date. Out of those figures approximately €36,000 has been spent on Kickham Barracks.
Regarding Reserve Defence Force premises in Clonmel, a property has been identified. Several minor issues have arisen with the lease which are being addressed, however.