SPEECH BY THE MINISTER FOR DEFENCE,
MR. MICHAEL SMITH, T.D.,
AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE NEW NCO’s MESS,
COLLINS BARRACKS, CORK
Friday, 7 September 2001
Chief of Staff, Secretary General of the Department of Defence, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to be here in Collins Barracks today to officially open this new NCO’s Mess.
This building cost £1.25 million and is a very welcome addition to the facilities in the barracks. It includes a bar/lounge with a dance area, a snooker room, a library, administration offices and guest rooms. There is direct access to the main Dining Complex next door which I had the honour of opening last year. The Dining Complex cost £1.7 million, so in this area of the barracks alone £3 million has been invested in the last two years.
Since 1997 over £10 million has been spent on refurbishing accommodation in Collins Barracks, Cork. It is extremely important that the best of facilities are provided for all our serving personnel and this modern, purpose-built structure is another very important development. Operational and training facilities are, of course, essential in ensuring that members of the Defence Forces are equipped to perform their duties, but it is equally important that soldiers have adequate leisure facilities.
The completion of this project is another step in the overall development and modernisation of the Defence Forces. Improvements are taking place in Defence Forces’ accommodation and these will continue as long as it is necessary to ensure that we have the best of facilities for all our personnel. It is estimated that the total expenditure on new buildings and projects for the up-grading of existing buildings throughout the Defence Forces will exceed £100 million in the period 1999 to 2003.
I think it is worth emphasising this Government's total commitment to continuing a process of major investment in equipment and infrastructure for the Defence Forces which means that more money than ever before is being made available for those purposes. This commitment was emphasised when the White Paper on Defence was approved by Government in February 2000. The benefits will reach every aspect of military life.
In addition to the building programme, a number of major developments are taking place on updating and modernising equipment. In 1999 the L.E. Róisín was delivered and this year a similar ship, the L.E Niamh arrived in Haulbowline and has commenced patrolling. These ships cost more than £22 million each and are modern, powerful and technically sophisticated ships; the first ten armoured personnel carriers from a consignment of forty new APCs are now in the country, with the balance to be delivered by early 2002. Taking spare parts and training into account this contract will cost £40 million; negotiations will begin shortly to purchase an additional 20 APCs; Steyr rifles valued at more than £2 million have been purchased for use by the Reserve; the process for the selection of a medium range helicopter for search and rescue is close to finalisation; there are plans to purchase light infantry tactical vehicles, modern anti-armour weapons, night vision equipment, engineer equipment and medical field equipment.
I would like to express my gratitude to all those involved with the design and construction of this building from start to finish. I would like to compliment the Corps of Engineers for their management of the project. I would like to thank the staff in the Contracts Branch of my Department. Special thanks must go to the main contractor, Kilmoney Construction Ltd., Carrigaline, for the overall high standard of work carried out. I would also like to mention the Structural, Mechanical and Electrical Engineer, John O’Donovan & Associates from Cork and the Quantity Surveyor, Bruce Shaw Partnership, also from Cork.
The top class facilities now available in the building represent a major improvement for members of the Defence Forces and it gives me great pleasure to declare the building officially open.
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