CBRRC critical of 'lack of community consultation' about refugee accommodation at barracks

The Columb Barracks Restoration and Regeneration Committee (CBRRC) has voiced its concern about what it sees as "the lack of community consultation with the people of Mullingar" about the erection of tented accommodation for refugees and asylum seekers in the barracks courtyard.

The CBRRC issued this statement last night:

The Columb Barracks Restoration and Regeneration Committee (CBRRC) is an umbrella group that assists the 30+ voluntary and community organisations that utilize the facilities of the former army barracks.

The members of the CBRRC have been made aware of recent reports, such as appeared in the Irish Times on January 27, that the square at the centre of the barracks may be used as a space to erect tented accommodation for refugees and asylum seekers.

Members of the CBRRC sought clarification on this matter from Minister of State Peter Burke at his constituency surgery on the morning of Monday January 30th.

While Minister Burke was not aware of a final decision being made on whether to use the barracks for this purpose, he assured the CBRRC members that he would seek an answer for them as soon as possible.

As this meeting was happening, members of the Defence Forces Engineer Corps visited the barracks grounds and stayed for a short time before leaving.

The main concern of the CBRRC is the lack of community consultation with the people of Mullingar over this development.

Since its official closure as an Irish Defence Forces base in 2012, Columb Barracks has been a home for groups that assist those with mental health issues and vulnerable youth among many others.

While war, famine and civil conflict rages from Ukraine to Ethiopia, we understand that people seeking a safe haven must be given refuge, and treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve. Our group is proud of the contribution that our members have made in this regard.

If managed properly by consulting with the local community, this development could be transformative for the barracks and Mullingar as a whole, bringing much needed state resources to our community.

But without proper long term planning, without a defined structure and without a proper mechanism for public consultation, all this vital progress could be lost.

The lack of communication from the government and civil service on this matter has been a serious impediment to creating community buy-in from the people of Mullingar.

This has been a disservice to Mullingar, following the successes of the Fleadh and the development of Hammerlake film studios.

As a result, the CBRRC is reaching out to the people of Mullingar to hear their opinions and will be organizing a public event held on the grounds of the barracks in the coming days.