Sinn Féin TD for Cavan-Monaghan Pauline Tully has called on the government to immediately intervene to address the core issues at the heart of the Retained Fire Service recruitment and retention crisis following the commencement of industrial action on Tuesday.
Deputy Tully called on constituency colleagues Niamh Smyth, Heather Humphry’s and Brendan Smith to urge Minister Darragh O’Brien to act now to resolve the crisis and warned that a failure to do so would put the lives of fire fighters and public in Cavan at risk.
Teachta Tully said:
“Retained Fire Fighters recently commenced industrial action at Retained Fire Stations here in Cavan and right across the state.
“If the government continues to refuse to address the core issues at the heart of the recruitment and retention crisis in the Retained Fire Service, members of the NRFA will be reluctantly forced to close half of all stations next week.
“And, if no meaningful attempt is made by the government to address the ongoing difficulties, all Retained Fire Stations will close in two weeks’ time.
“I know from my dealings with members of the Retained Fire Service that they are the most dedicated professionals who regularly put their lives on the line in the course of their duty. They do not want to be in this position but feel that they have no choice.
“I am calling on Niamh Smyth, Heather Humphry’s and Brendan Smith to stand up for fire fighters in their community, and the people they serve, and to urge Minister Darragh O’Brien to act now to resolve the crisis.
“Failure to do so will put the lives of fire fighters and the public in Cavan at risk.
“Retained Fire Fighters are understaffed and under-resourced. They are on 24/7 call-out and must be within five minutes travel time from their station at all times.
“What the NRFA are seeking includes an increased pay structure, with more structured leave, along with further talks with key stakeholders, which would include proposals within an agreed timeframe for the restructuring of the Retained Fire Service to ensure its future operation.
“In November, my Sinn Féin colleague John Brady introduced a Dáil motion that sought the establishment of a Joint Oireachtas cross-party committee, to sit for four months, and that would have heard evidence from expert witnesses and stakeholders in order to identify the key issues impacting on the Retained Fire Service before bringing recommendations to government.
“The government took the decision to vote against the motion, abandoning any attempt to resolve a crisis that is crippling the Retained Fire Service.
“Minister Darragh O’Brien, in front of a packed Dáil gallery of Retained Fire Fighters, justified his opposition on the basis that he would bring forward proposals to address the recruitment and retention crisis.
“Government TDs Niamh Smyth, Heather Humphry’s and Brendan Smith in Cavan-Monaghan must hold their minister to account and true to his word.
“He must immediately intervene to address the core issues at the heart of the recruitment and retention crisis in the Retained Fire Service.”