Columb Barracks “has not been forgotten about” by the powers that be, according to Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore.
The Labour Party leader, who was speaking during a visit to Mullingar last week for the national launch of the Local Enterprise Office system, said that the government are still interested in the future of the barracks.
“There are a number of ideas that are being looked at. Willie Penrose and I were discussing a number of ideas for the barracks with the taoiseach and the minister for the environment. We’re working on those proposals. Mullingar barracks has not been forgotten about.”
Deputy Gilmore said that the barracks, which is currently being used by Westmeath GAA as a centre of excellence, has “huge potential to generate additional employment in this area”.
Deputy Willie Penrose said that both the taoiseach and tánaiste were “eager” to hear about the barracks during their meeting with him and county manager Pat Gallagher and that they were already “aware” that Westmeath GAA were its new tenants.
He added that during the discussion it emerged that “there may well be money” available to help in the development of the barracks into a sporting and community hub for Mullingar.
Since Westmeath County Board signed a lease with the Department of Defence last August, the barracks has been used by county and club GAA teams, as well as being used for training purposes by other local sporting clubs. In March, former county footballer Alan Mangan opened the first commercial enterprise in the barracks.
Wind export ‘shelved, full stop’
The embattled Labour leader also told the Westmeath Examiner that Pat Rabbitte’s pronouncements that plans to export wind energy have been shelved are not a pre-election smokescreen, as has been suggested by campaigners.
“No it’s not. He had this looked at. He has made a decision on it and the shelving of it is related to the export of wind, which is now not taking place. When it’s shelved, it’s shelved.”