Athlone 'a prospect' for new Army headquarters

The possibility of Athlone becoming the new headquarters of the Irish Army was referenced by Tánaiste Michéal Martin when he visited Mullingar on Friday last.

The Fianna Fáil leader was asked about a call from Green Party councillor Hazel Smyth to consider Mullingar's Columb Barracks as the site for the proposed Army headquarters.

Mr Martin ruled out Mullingar as an option for the headquarters, but indicated Athlone was a live possibility.

"(Columb Barracks) was decommissioned by the Department of Defence. I think people are looking at Athlone as a prospect but definitely not Mullingar," he told local reporters.

He said a review was "on the way" regarding the creation of a new Army headquarters, the establishment of which was among the recommendations in last year's report by the Commission on the Defence Forces.

"I must say that the military tradition in this region has been very, very strong. Every time that I go to the Lebanon, every time that I go to various barracks, that is so evident," Mr Martin said.

"There is a tremendous loyalty to the Defence Forces in this region and there has been a very honourable participation by people in the community here. I see it all of the time."

It's thought that a designation of Athlone as the site of the new Army headquarters would bring a significant jobs boost to the town and would bolster its designation by the Government as the 'regional growth centre' for the Midlands.