Department of Defence questioned wisdom of study on use of barracks land for housing before decision on whether it was feasible to move troops out

Senior officials at the Department of Defence believed it made no sense to carry out a study on if one of their key barracks could be used for housing before a decision was made on whether they still needed to station troops there.

The Department of the Taoiseach had asked the Land Development Agency (LDA) to examine whether Cathal Brugha Barracks in Dublin could be repurposed to provide much-needed residential accommodation.

However, the Department of Defence believed it was “premature” without a full feasibility study on whether the Defence Forces could even manage without the property, which is located on a highly valuable site in Rathmines.

An internal defence submission said: “The ‘housing focused study’ should not commence until the [department] feasibility study is nearing completion or significantly progressed and there is a considered view as to whether a move [or] reconfiguration is regarded as feasible or not from a security, operational, and cost perspective.

“It appears to be premature to spend money on an evaluation of the potential for the site to be repurposed for residential housing, if there is evidence that a move [or] reconfiguration is not actually feasible.”

However, Tánaiste and Defence Minister Micheál Martin asked that the Land Development Agency study go ahead saying it was important government agencies “work collectively, [and] not in silos”.