Seanad Éireann - Volume 162 - 04 April, 2000

Adjournment Matters. - Defence Forces Property.

Mr. Glynn: Four or five years ago Westmeath County Council and the Department of Defence agreed to provide funding for the reconstruction of a perimeter wall at Columb Barracks, Ashe Road, Mullingar. I raise this matter in the hope that the Minister will increase the allocation from the Department of Defence to allow this work to proceed. The authorities at the barracks are anxious that the wall should be reconstructed as [1483] it is quite unsafe and is a blight on the area. No blame is apportioned to the Army authorities in this regard as there is an agreement between Westmeath County Council and the Department of Defence. The council is willing to undertake the work and it is absolutely imperative that the perimeter wall should be moved in order to improve the sightline of the roadway at the location. I have given an undertaking to certain people in Columb Barracks that I will endeavour to have the allocation increased. I thank the Minister of State for coming in to respond and I hope the news will be good.

Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Dr. Moffatt): I thank the Senator for raising this issue. In 1995 the Department sold land adjacent to Columb Barracks, Mullingar, to Westmeath County Council for the construction of a social housing scheme. During negotiations on the sale council representatives indicated that they were anxious to realign a portion of the barrack boundary wall at Ashe Road in order to relieve an ongoing problem with traffic. The wall obstructs the sightline of the roadway and, in particular, the junctions serving the nearby shopping centre, thereby creating a serious traffic hazard. In order to remove the hazard and facilitate the realignment of the wall the Department agreed to dedicate a portion of the land to the county council.

On 25 July 1997 the relevant deed of dedication governing the transfer of the land was completed. [1484] Under the terms of the deed the Department dedicated approximately 0.5 acres to the council, which agreed to erect a new permanent wall dividing the Department's retained lands from the dedicated lands in association with the necessary road alignment works. At the time the cost of the works was estimated at £38,000. Following negotiations it was agreed that the Department would contribute £15,000 to the council on a pro rata basis of estimated figures of £15,000 and £23,000.

To date the works have not been carried by the council. However, I am informed that it is currently briefing a consultant structural engineer in regard to the construction of the proposed wall. The task broadly comprises detailed design, including necessary site investigations, preparation and issue of tender documents, tender assessment and report, award of contract and construction. It is estimated that the completion of the project, including design, award of the contract and construction will take 33 weeks. I have been given to understand that the cost of the completion of the works will most likely exceed the original estimate of £38,000 and in that event the Department will contribute a 15:38 portion of the overall cost as originally agreed. The Department's officials will continue to liaise with the council in the matter, as and when necessary.

Mr. Glynn: I thank the Minister of State for his positive reply and ask him to convey my sincere thanks to the Minister for Defence.

The Seanad adjourned at 8 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 5 April 2000.