Saturday, March 18, 2023


By Joe Barrett


On the proposal of Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley and seconded by cllr John Joe Fennelly, at the February meeting of Laois County Council, the council was given the approval to proceed, subject to funding, with the construction of a new Laois Civil Defence Headquarters.

The existing headquarters along the Cork Road in Stradbally was once a squash court and converted in 1992 to accommodate the response agency. There are currently 34 active members involved in the unit at present with an additional nine recruits undergoing training. It has a fleet of 17 vehicles and two boats which are also housed in the premises in Stradbally.

In recommending councillors agreeing to proceed with the plans for the new premises Laois Civil Defence Officer Damien Dollard and the council’s Director of Services Simon Walton, in a joint statement, said “the facility in Stradbally is no longer fit for purpose.”

They said: “Training and welfare needs required of a modern Civil Defence unit together with the provision of effective services, cannot be sustained in the existing facility. In parallel, other, temporary, accommodation arrangements were in place until recently providing an ad-hoc, sporadic, range of accommodation facilities throughout the County, unfit for the needs of Civil Defence.”

Mr Walton added: “As the Civil Defence expands this new facility could also expand. The development is for a 900sq metre facility.”

Cllr Dwane Stanley said: “The Civil Defence were adamant that it was in Portlaoise that they needed to have their headquarters because it is central. They do absolutely fantastic work during terrible times during the winter months and deal with some terrible tragic cases that they are called out to.

“I am also delighted that there has been consultation with the Order of Malta who will be on the same site.  I am happy, that they too are happy with this proposal. I think this will be a great project. This all started back when Kieran Keogh was the Director of Services. He put the foundations of the proposals in place and began looking for an alternative site and spent a lengthy time doing that. It great that we are at this point, and I am delighted to have proposed it.”

Cllr John Joe Fennelly said: “It has been many years in the offing. It’s great to see it come to pass. Have we now got a timeframe, or is the funding secured for it? I also want to thank the Civil Defence for the great work that they are doing.”

Cllr Willie Aird said: “This has been going on for years and years in Laois County Council. The Civil Defence has grown and grown over the last number of years and has built up a great base with all the modern facilities it has. They are one of the first to be called out in times of difficulties and in emergency situations. It’s very important that we have a building of the highest standards for them to work out of. We’d like to see the timeframe and hope it will be sooner rather than later.  The volunteers are always there. Training away night after night and are very much involved in the local community. We certainly recognise the contribution that they make.

“We must also include the Order of Malta who are also a voluntary organisation. For years and years they have always been seen as a part of the local authority. Their headquarters for years were in the old council offices along the Dublin Road.”

Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald said: “This is great news. The Civil Defence is a great organisation, and we are very lucky to have the calibre of people that’s involved in it.”


Comments are closed.

Contact Newsdesk: +353 57 86 70216

More Laois News