Minister of State for Housing and Planning Willie Penrose has retired his Cabinet position over the decision to close the Columb Military Barracks in Mullingar.
Mr Penrose had voiced strong opposition to the closure of the barracks in his constituency of Longford/Westmeath in recent weeks with the decision to close it at the end of March 2012 prompting him to quit his role.
The Labour Party TD’s decision comes just days after he announced €25 million in funding for the continued regeneration of Ballymun in Dublin.
In a statement announcing his decision, Mr Penrose said: “It was regret that I tendered my resignation as Minister of State at the Dept of the Environment today.
“Over recent weeks and months, I had made my clear unstinting opposition to proposals to close Columb Barracks in Mullingar, so arising from a decision that was made at cabinet today, I had no alternative but to take this course of action.
“I fully appreciate that difficult decisions have to be made by the Govt if we are to get out of the economic mess in which we have found ourselves, but I was not prepared to stand over a decision that was not backed up by the facts and figures.
“In the context of collective cabinet responsibility, and given my vociferous opposition to this proposal, I could not continue in Govt, and so have tendered my resignation to the Tanaiste, the Taoiseach and the Labour Whip.
“I understand and appreciate that significant efforts were made by my Labour colleagues in Govt, who fully understood the depths of my feelings in this regard, to resolve this matter, but to no avail.
“While I will no longer hold the Labour whip, I will continue to serve the people of Longford Westmeath as an active and vocal public representative.”