Modular homes at Columb Barracks.

45 new modular homes set to be installed at Columb Barracks

The Department of Integration plans to install 45 more modular housing units at Columb Barracks, it has emerged today.

Local Oireachtas representatives and councillors were informed earlier today that Minister for Integration Roderic O'Gorman has signed a ministerial order for the procurement of 45 new modular homes that will accommodate up to 320 people.

Some of the new modular housing will replace the tents that currently house 160 international protection applicants. The barracks is also home to 100 Ukrainian people who are living in modular homes located on the parade ground.

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner earlier Deputy Troy said that while he continues to believe that large towns and cities are more suitable locations for refugee accommodation, housing people in modular homes is not the best use of taxpayers' money.

"I think when we're housing people seeking asylum large towns are the most appropriate location. People have access to a multitude of services, they have access to public transport, those who have the opportunity to work have better chance of getting work, college, all of that.

"I think the government is right to be looking at towns rather than small rural villages that don't have the same services as towns.

“But I do feel that this was an operational barracks  up to a decade ago, which housed up to 300 serving soldiers, and to my mind, the money would be far better spent bringing the buildings back up to a habitable state. The buildings would be there for generations to come and be able to be used for social housing in the future or for other uses. But letting the buildings fall down and put modular units around them is just lunacy in my mind. I'm going to be raising it with the Tánaiste at our parliamentary party meeting this evening so that he can raise it directly with Minister O'Gorman.”

Deputy Sorca Clarke says that the government has failed to uphold its commitment to engage with communities.

“Phone calls [to TDs] from representatives of IPAS is not engagement. And to hear that this decision was taken by ministerial order is a damning indictment of their government and their so-called management of migration.”

Noting that it is a little over two months since Minister O'Gorman told her that there were no plans to house any more people in the barracks, Deputy Clarke said that “it's important to question the veracity of any information that I, as a democratically elected TD, receive”.

“When a minister says one thing and what transpires is literally 180 from that statement. Anything else announced or communicated is therefore automatically questionable.”

Deputy Clarke was also critical of the timing of the announcement as the Dail goes into its summer recess tomorrow, Thursday.

“It's no longer misinformation. It's no longer a lack of engagement. This is now a well-worn path by government.

“They say one thing and do something else. A commitment was given to engage with communities. I have yet to see that commitment upheld.”