If the Russians weren’t going to polish off the Defence Forces, certainly our own state may do so with confirmation that Cathal Brugha Barracks has been earmarked for a feasibility study on converting it into social and affordable housing.
Home to 2 Army Brigades, the 30 acre Barracks houses both the Bomb Disposal Unit,7 Infantry Batallions, the Military Archives as well as 2 Cavalry Squadrons. In addition to this there is a large number of army families resident on base.
Expected to cost approximately €250,000, the study is largely the brainchild of the Green Party who since 2008 have set their sights on converting the barracks into housing stock. Citing unaffordability in the capital, the plans were announced as part of the Government’s ‘Housing For All’ strategy much to the chagrin of serving members of Defence Forces and their families.
Set in an area of rocketing rents and constricted supply, the logic of the proposed move is that such a largely brownfield in the city centre would be better suited for house building. With promises of accommodation for families already resident, an overlooked factor in the Irish housing crisis has been the plight of military families let down repeatedly by sudden closures.
Condemned on the public airwaves by Cathal Berry TD,opponents of the development cite the likelihood of evicting military families already resident as well as the tearing up of a key piece of defence infrastructure amid an already worsening crisis within the army.
Not the first barracks to close in the aftermath of the Crash 4 Barracks were shut down in Mullingar, Clonmel, Cavan and Castlebar. A perennial factor in the army retention crisis, the failure of the state to provide adequate housing to the families of those who wear the state’s uniform has been a decades-long scandal.
On a normal occasion NIMBYism is to be deplored, however by potentially trashing an essential military asset for minimal gain condemnation must be aired.
As any Trinity student can tell you, the area around the barracks is littered with derelict property nevermind the demographic impact of mass immigration caused by visa loopholes and language schools.
Despite posturing on the global stage and increasing penchant to back every colour revolution going our state fails miserably at catering for the most basic defence requirements.
Amid last year’s covid protests it was spoken of the potential need for the Defence Forces to take to the streets should the Public Order Unit become overwhelmed.
I wonder who the politicians will call on to barricade Kildare Street now in that event?