As the Deputy is aware, since the closure of Columb Barracks in 2012, my Department has explored a number of avenues to try and secure its long term future for the benefit of the local community. Government Departments and other Public Bodies, including Westmeath County Council, have been invited to declare an interest in acquiring the property. However no interest has been expressed from any of these bodies.
In May 2016 officials from my Department attended a public meeting in Mullingar on the future use of the barracks. A local group was subsequently established in order to prepare a feasibility study on community use of the premises. No report from that group has been furnished to my Department.
In April 2017, the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, launched the online Rebuilding Ireland Housing Land Map as a key part of the Rebuilding Ireland initiative. Columb Barracks was included as one of the publicly owned sites having potential for housing development. However, to date there have been no formal approaches under this initiative.
As the Barracks is no longer required for military purposes, the current financial and administrative burden resulting from its retention cannot be sustained. As such, my Department has no plans to appoint consultants to carry out a master plan for its future use. Accordingly, my officials are proceeding with its disposal.