I have been advised by the military authorities that are currently 4,625 beds available for use by members of the Defence Forces. Of these 4,625 beds, 2,460 are classified as temporary accommodation for use by personnel for various reasons including those on residential training courses, on operational deployments at short notice, etc.
I have been further advised by the military authorities that locations where there is an accommodation shortage varies, depending on the type of accommodation required for a particular activity, e.g. operational deployments at short notice or short-term collective Unit training.
In relation to the infrastructure requirements of the Defence Forces, this year I have allocated some €28m towards the maintenance of and the development of new building projects for the Defence Forces. This represents an increase of over €10m compared to 2018. It is intended that the monies to be allocated towards the provision and improvement of built infrastructure will continue to increase in the coming years.
Some of the key ongoing projects now underway in improving our Defence Forces infrastructure are:
- Approval to commence a design solution for the refurbishment of and upgrading of the Accommodation Block in the Naval Base at Haulbowline was issued on the 10 July 2019. This approval will allow the procurement process for the appointment of a Design Team to develop this project to commence shortly. This project will deliver additional living in capacity on top of the existing provision of 210 beds spaces already provided at the Naval Base.
- The refurbishment of the Apprentice Accommodation Block at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel is well advanced. This will provide class rooms, auditorium, recreational and improved living in accommodation for 75 personnel. This project will be completed in November 2019.
- The refurbishment of the Dining Hall in Custume Barracks, Athlone started in 2018. The scope of the works includes the refurbishment and upgrade of the existing dining hall and cookhouse. The upgrade and refurbishment of the building currently in place will provide a modern dining facility and ensure the long-term viability of the complex at the barracks. These works will be completed by year end.
- The upgrading and refurbishment of Plunkett Block 7 in the Curragh Camp, Defence Forces Training Centre involves the refurbishment of the existing accommodation for 58 personnel to modern standards. Tenders for this project are currently being evaluated and it is expected to place the contract in the coming weeks.
- Upgrading and refurbishment of the existing accommodation for 80 personnel in Blocks 1 & 2 in Cathal Brugha Barracks is scheduled to commence before the end of this year.
Taken together these projects which are all being prioritised represent a combined value of some €25m in planned capital investment. This level of investment illustrates the importance I attach to ensuring that the quality of the Defence Forces built infrastructure meets with the expectations of our serving personnel.