Time running out as barracks deputation comes up against brick wall

“Angry, frustrated, and embarrassed” Athlone councillors are still waiting to hear if their request to meet with the Taoiseach or Tánaiste over the barracks will be granted before the Dáil and the council break for their summer recess.

Town clerk Hugh O’Reilly is contacting the Taoiseach’s office directly in an attempt to secure a meeting with an Athlone deputation, after letters sent last month proved unsuccessful.

Councillors are anxious to discuss the downgrading of Athlone’s Custume Barracks, which was announced on June 14, and to seek answers on which personnel are to be removed from the barracks.

Cllr Sheila Buckley-Byrne raised the question at Monday’s meeting of Athlone Town Council, prompting an outpouring of anger and frustration at the difficulty in securing a meeting thus far.

“I am concerned that this will be left over until September; we have questions about which [personnel] are to move and we need to put these questions to the Taoiseach and Tánaiste and get a commitment. We have to get a meeting, and we would have to be having it over the next week or so,” she said.

Cllr Paul Hogan agreed that things needed to move “very fast” to secure a meeting.

“It is not too much to ask, with the amount of confusion and pain out there,” he added.

However Cllr Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran was less hopeful; “If our TDs can’t get a meeting with the Tánaiste and Taoiseach, it would be very hard for us. They are not willing to meet with anyone. I think we should write to our TDs who promised us they would get a meeting; they should go up to them, grab them by the hand if they have to,” he suggested.

Cllr Kieran Molloy suggested that those in power “don’t understand the depth of anger at the changes that have taken place”.

“There is no point in giving out to councillors, we are down the order somewhat in the Taoiseach and Tánaiste’s level of thinking. The TD in our town [Deputy Nicky McFadden] is doing her damnedest; it is the most serious issue to come in front of the town for years. There is no doubt with the downgrade that jobs will be lost.”

Newly elected mayor Jim Henson said he was “frustrated and embarrassed” that a meeting has not yet taken place.


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