THERE have been renewed calls for Lifford’s army camp to be revived after it emerged tens of thousands of euros are being spent maintaining the derelict compound.
Figures published under the Freedom of Information Act reveal how Donegal County Council has paid out €50,000 in the past three years looking after the vast compound.
January 2019 marks ten years since the barracks shut its gates for the last time. It remained in the possession of the Department of Defence until 2016 when it was purchased by Donegal County Council.
In the years since its closure various suggestions have been put forward as to what the demilitarised site should be used for. Among the ideas tabled have been a Garda station and council offices.
It is understood the latter remains the preferred option and in May of this year Donegal County Council said work to make the barracks fit for use by its staff would be “advanced in the coming months”.
The site remains dormant however and the Chronicle has learnt that since buying it, the local authority has forked out €50,000 on its upkeep.
In the past three years €38,166 has been spent on general ground maintenance, tree surgery, repairs to the roof of the Prior School, intruder alarms, an asbestos survey and general building maintenance.
A further €11,538 has been spent on electricity – €3,298 in 2016, €5,345 in 2017 and €2,895 so far this year.
Councillor for the Stranorlar Municipal District, Gary Doherty, said the future of the army barracks was an issue that came up regularly at council meetings. He added that it was a “crying shame” that the site had been allowed to sit derelict for so long.
“It is one of the things councillors identified when we had our budget workshop a few weeks ago and it is likely to be raised again when we have our budget meeting in the next few weeks. It is something that comes up regularly among councillors not just in my area but county-wide. It is a crying shame that it has lain empty for as long as it has because it is a prime piece of real estate. And the longer it is empty, the more likely it is to fall into disrepair.”
Cllr Doherty added that the barracks was “becoming a bit of an eyesore” and that steps to resurrect it needed to be taken sooner rather than later.
“The fact is that we have this fantastic resource in the middle of Lifford, in a very accessible place, and it is not being used. As members, our wishes would be that Donegal County Council invests in the site and puts it to use as soon as possible.”
It is not clear how much it will cost to renovate the army camp but Cllr Doherty said that if funding was an issue, then council should look to the government for help.
Donegal County Council was asked for an update on the future of the Lifford barracks but at the time of going to press none had been received.