Fianna Fáil Cllr. Dessie Larkin welcomed the news that agreement in principle has been reached for Donegal County Council to take possession of Rockhill House and its joining land.
In response to a question from Cllr. Larkin, Town Clerk Paddy Doherty told Letterkenny Town Council that the deal to is expected to be concluded over the next six to eight weeks.
“Obviously the challenge now is to make sure they’re used to the full,” Cllr. Larkin said of the site, which housed the 28th Infantry Battalion until the troops were relocated to Finner Camp in Ballyshannon in early 2009.
Noting that the Rockhill estate is a protected structure, Cllr. Larkin said, “If we had lost it, I’m sure we would have been condemned by many generations to come.”
After the barracks’ closure was decided in 2008, the councillor and his party colleagues Cllr. Gerry Crawford and Cllr. Patrick McGowan suggested that the local authority secure the premises. The council then was spending nearly 2 million euro on rented space, Cllr. Larkin said.
“If we can offset that, it wouldn’t be a financial burden on the council for acquiring these particular premises,” he said.
The councillor credited former tánaiste, Mary Coughlan, with later stopping a sale of the property when she heard the site was on the market. That opened up new negotiations between the council and the department, Cllr. Larkin said.
Council ownership of the site “hopefully will be some comfort to people who served there in the past,” Cllr. Larkin said. “Hopefully it will be used to the greater good of the town and county.”