Barracks facilities should be used for community

There are calls for the gym and other facilities at Columb Barracks to be made available to the public, following the closure of the barracks on Wednesday this week.

Cllr Gerry Sheridan says the “ultra modern” gymnasium facility at the barracks should be open to the public as a community gym facility, and is also suggesting the barracks could accommodate a youth café and training for the local Reserve Defence Forces.

Despite suggestions that an educational institution might be interested in locating to the barracks, no offers have been forthcoming, a fact that Cllr Mick Dollard finds frustrating.

“There is nothing on the table for the facilities. There is huge potential there and so many organisations are crying out for facilities. I think it’s daft for any State agency [such as the RDF] to pay rent for a premises when there is a premises there that can be used,” he said.

Meanwhile, speaking at Tuesday’s Mullingar Town Council meeting, Cllr Ruth Illingworth feels the barracks has “enormous potential” as a sports or educational facility.

“The gym would be an important part of this, and the square is virtually a running track. There is space for a football pitch. My personal preference would be for some kind of third level educational facility. I’m not sure how it could be done but we would need to find some way, for example for the VEC to acquire part of the barracks.

“Tomorrow [Wednesday] is the end of an era, and we have to start writing a new chapter in the next week,” she added.

However Cllr Ken Glynn felt it was “insensitive” to be discussing future plans for the barracks before the soldiers had even left.

Cllr Peter Burke added that he hoped that “an afternoon like tomorrow [Wednesday] does not visit the town again for a long time”.

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