Columb Barracks: closed since March
The Department of Defence remains tight-lipped over security arrangements at Mullingar's vacant Columb Barracks, amid fears by concerned Mullingar residents that the property could become a target for anti-social behaviour.
Such is the level of public concern out there over the future and welfare of the barracks, which closed its gates in March, that a public meeting has been called as a first step towards lobbying the Government to find an alternative use for the property.
Mullingar businessman Des Walsh, a member of the Friends of Columb Barracks group, said that there are rumours that the security detail assigned to the barracks was removed recently due to further cost saving measures.
"People are afraid that finding an alternative use for the barracks is going to be put on the long finger, and that it's going to become a target for thieves, vandals or people climbing over the walls and engaging in anti-social behaviour," Mr Walsh told the Westmeath Examiner.
"We urgently need to find another use for the barracks, and it needs to be for the good of the community - not for profit or any other such use," he added.
We contacted the Department of Defence on Friday morning to find out if there is any truth to the rumoured removal of the barracks' security detail.
A spokesperson for Minister Alan Shatter said that security measures have been taken at the barracks since its closure, but that it is "not the Department's policy to go into the specific detail in relation to ongoing measures".
"The effectiveness of the security measures is continuously monitored," the spokesperson added.
Mr Walsh said that all stakeholders in Mullingar need to come together in a united voice, to put pressure on the Government to come up with an alternative, community use for the barracks.
With that in mind, a meeting to discuss the future of the barracks property will take place in the Greville Arms Hotel, Mullingar on Monday night next, September 10 at 8pm.
"Anyone with any ideas as to how we can move things forward will be most welcome," Mr Walsh said.