Kinnegar Logistics Base

A section of a County Down Army base is to be prepared for use as a large-scale mortuary as part of Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 planning.

At least one climate-controlled building on Holywood’s Kinnegar site will be converted for the purpose.

Health Minister Robin Swann had previously warned deaths in coming weeks could surpass the 3,500 during the Northern Ireland troubles.

The 54-acre site is used for training, but has little or no operational role.

It has been earmarked for sale in 2022.

But in response to the coronavirus emergency, part of the facility is being leased by the Department of Justice (DoJ) for temporary use.

The site is on the shore of Belfast Lough, about seven miles from the city centre, and is close to housing.

Justice Minister Naomi Long said: “We are taking precautions to prepare for the risk that the normal arrangements are not sufficient.

“The priority will always be to ensure that there is respect and dignity for the deceased and their families.

”It is believed the move was agreed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) after a DoJ request under regulations known as Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA).

One of the last times MACA was used in Northern Ireland was in 2013 when a Royal Air Force (RAF) Chinook helicopter was used to drop emergency supplies onto farms cut-off by snow.

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