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Speech by Minister for Defence, Mr. Willie O’Dea, T.D. during his visit to Curragh Camp

03 March 2005

Secretary-General, Chief of Staff, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

I am delighted to be here in the Curragh Camp today as part of my nationwide tour of army barracks and military installations.

As the Chief of Staff and Brigadier General O’Sullivan will be aware I asked that these visits be as informal as possible so that I have the opportunity to meet and talk with as many members of the Defence Forces as possible. You may be relieved to hear that I intend to play my part in that by delivering a very brief speech.

At each and every one of the locations I have visited so far I have been deeply impressed by the commitment and professionalism of our military personnel across all ranks. My visit with you here in the Curragh Camp is no exception.

I was most pleased to be able to secure over €33.5 million in this year’s Defence Department estimates for Building work – both capital and non-capital.

I am particularly pleased to see that a considerable portion of this money will be invested here in the Curragh camp. Approximately €4.3 million will be spent on a number of important projects here during the coming year. These include the refurbishment of Connolly 7 Block as an accommodation facility costing €1.7 million. Work on this should start next September. Work on the New Sports Pavilion will also start around the same time – costing €600,000.

I understand that work on the DFTC HQ Building, where the McDermott Officer’s Mess is to be refurbished and converted to a HQ, is about ready to commence at an approximate cost of €800,000.

The Defence Forces are also making a capital contribution to Kildare County Council of €1.2 million towards the cost of a new sewage treatment plant.

These ongoing works are critical if we are to maintain the highest standards of equipment, facilities and training within the Curragh. Investment here has been a key Government priority. Since 1999 we have invested over €68.6 million in the Curragh Camp.

The past seven years have seen an unprecedented level of investment in the Defence Forces. This programme of investment is continuing.

In January, I signed contracts for the purchase of six new helicopters valued at €60 million.

This week the Department has commenced the process of purchasing a fleet of Light Tactical Armoured Vehicles (LTAVs). These will complement the work of the sixty-five Mowag Armoured Personnel Carriers delivered in the last few years at a cost of some €84 million.

The first stage of the procurement process, the Request for Proposal (RFP) stage, began this week with the issuing of documentation to interested suppliers. This will broadly establish the range of suitable vehicles available in the market place as well as an indication of the costs involved. Proposals are due back in the Department in early April 2005.

The precise number of vehicles to be acquired will be confirmed at a later date. I expect that a contract for the supply of the LTAVs will be in place by the end of this year.

In conclusion, may I thank Brigadier General O’Sullivan, his staff, and everyone in the Curragh for making my visit here today so pleasant and enjoyable. I also want to express my appreciation to the staff and trainers in the United Nations Training School for giving me the opportunity to see the tremendous work they are doing there.

I wish you all well and look forward to visiting you again soon.


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