HC Deb 19 December 1980 vol 996 c330W
Mr. McCusker

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the infantry battalion due to be garrisoned in Portadown in 1984.

Mr. Hayhoe

Pressures on the defence budget have forced us to look critically at all our current programmes and, while we remain committed to stationing a further resident infantry battalion in Northern Ireland, we have been examining ways of doing so more cheaply than by building a new barracks in Portadown, as we had once planned.

We now propose to adapt Lisanelly barracks, at Omagh to accept an additional resident infantry battalion in 1982 when the armoured reconnaissance unit, there at present, moves out.

This change will have the operational advantage of making a sixth resident infantry battalion available in the Province two years earlier than would have been the case if we had continued with the Portadown build. It will also enable the armoured reconnaissance unit to be deployed to areas where its specialised military capabilities are more in demand than they are in Northern Ireland where infantry skills are those most often required in supporting the RUC.