NUMBERS at Kilkenny Army Barracks are set to soar in the next few weeks. Up to 80 members of the Defence Forces who had been stationed at Kickham Barracks in Clonmel will move to Kilkenny at the end of March when the army base in the Tipperary town closes under the Government’s cost cutting measures. The numbers at James Stephens barracks have been swollen further by the decision to place the directorate of Military Police in the city while the Number 1 Security Company with responsibility for military deployment at Portlaoise prison have been based in James Stephens for some time.
However, the main band of soldiers will come from the 12th Battalion that has been based in Clonmel for many years and many of these will have to move full-time ot the city giving the local housing market a much needed injection.
Once the decision was made at Cabinet level to keep the Kilkenny army barracks open there was always the possibility that numbers would grow in the barracks, especially with its proximity to Dublin following the opening of the dual carriage way between the two cities. The move has been welcomed by the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan who said that the threat that had hung over the barracks had now been lifted and that the future was brought for a barracks that celebrated its 90th year centenary of being taken over the by the Irish Free Sate last week.
“We have to be vigilant and make sure that we hold what we have and ensure that the barracks prospers,” he said. The barracks is worth around E15 million a year to the local economy and the presence of the military in the city is also a huge boost in time of emergency, especially during the snow and ice when their specialist vehicles can deal with any weather conditions.
Chairman of Kilkenny County Council, Paul Cuddihy welcomed the news of the impending boost in numbers at the barracks and said it was a testimony to the hard work of Minister Hogan in fighting the case for Kilkenny at Cabinet level. “It proves the benefit of having a Government minister during a recession,” Cllr Cuddihy said.