Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Army cuts raise fears for Kinnegar’s future

There are fears that Kinnegar Barracks, outside Holywood, is to close following an announcement by defence minister Liam Fox that the military is to be reformed and cuts are to be made.

The Ministry of Defence however, has countered the claim and said it is purely speculative at this time.

Peter Weir, DUP MLA for North Down said: “The decision to reduce the level of troop deployment in Northern Ireland has an impact that goes beyond simply the reduction in army numbers.

“This has been driven, not by any reassessment of security concerns in Northern Ireland, but rather the foolhardy approach by the Government in making cutbacks in the military.

“In particular, this decision must be of concern to Holywood and crucially to the future of Kinnegar Barracks.

“The decision will affect 453 military and five civilian personnel at Kinnegar barracks, and while there has been a commitment to post the military personnel to other units, the long term security of the future of Kinnegar base must be of grave concern.

“The loss of this level of personnel will have a detrimental impact on the local economy, and with a long term reduction in the size of the army, the sustainability of all the army bases in Northern Ireland must be called into question.

“Holywood has a long tradition of supporting the local garrison, and the commitment to Palace Barracks by the MOD is to be welcomed. With consultation on these proposals due to begin soon, I believe that it is vital that the Government take that opportunity to make their commitment to the long term retention of Kinnegar.”

North Down DUP MLA Gordon Dunne, who worked at the MoD barracks for 30 years , described it as a major employer in the area.

“I know the tremendous job which the 19th Light Brigade has carried out over the years, and it is regrettable that they are to be disbanded.

“It is vital that the Ministry of Defence ensure there will not be any job losses, given their level of service. The Kinnegar Army Barracks has been a proud part of Holywood for many years, and has been a major employer locally for many generations.

“It has been a central feature of the local economy for many, many years.

“Despite cuts to the army, we must do all we can to maintain the long term future of Kinnegar for both army and civilian personnel, many of whom have given a lifetime of dedicated service.

“It is vital that in the face of ever increasing financial pressure from the Treasury, that Northern Ireland’s defence infrastructure is not interfered with for purely financial reasons.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said: “This is pure speculation based on last week’s announcement about restructuring which referred to plans to look at dissolving 19th Brigade — it really depends on the future basing of troops and troops coming back from Germany and other bases.”

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