THE cost of maintaining the former Shackleton army barracks in Ballykelly, soon to be used as the new Department of Agriculture headquarters, far exceeds that of any other former Minister of Defence lands owned by the Stormont Executive.
The annual cost of the former army base in Ballykelly is approaching half a million pounds, costs that are met with public money because the site is owned by the Stormont Executive.
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill recently stated that one of the reasons Ballykelly was selected as the future site of her departmental headquarters, aside from the unemployment problems faced in both Limavady and the wider North West, was the huge burden of looking after the site.
In comparison with other former Ministry of Defence lands currently under the ownership of the Office of First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) at Stormont, Shackleton’s security, maintenance and other costs are substantially higher.
While it costs the tax payer a huge total of £486,282 every year simply to maintain and secure Shackleton, other substantial sites such as Ebrington in Londonderry cost around half that amount.
Ebrington costs the tax-payer £235,112 per annum, Crumlin Road Gaol costs £210,590, the Maze / Long Kesh site £170,290, St Lucia in Omagh costs £55,572 while St Patrick’s in Ballymena costs the tax payer £270,596 every year.
Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill, whose new Departmental headquarters are soon to be relocated to the former Shackleton army base in a move that will bring 800 government jobs to the Limavady Borough, recently stated that the high costs already associated with Shackleton were among the reasons Ballykelly was chosen.
The figures quoted above were released by First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness in response to questioning from DUP MLA for East Londonderry Gregory Campbell.