Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has called on the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to provide greater recognition and resourcing of fire services on our offshore islands.
The Donegal Deputy raised the issue in the Dáil this week following mounting concerns from fire service personnel and local island communities over the reported poor condition of fire stations and the ongoing under sourcing of fire services on Donegal’s islands.
Deputy Doherty said: “Following the growing number of concerns which I’ve received from local island communities and fire personnel over the lack of proper investment and poor infrastructure available to the fire service on our offshore islands, I proceeded to highlight the matter with the Minister in the Dáil.
“In my Dáil Question, I asked whether or not the Government was prepared to address the widening gap between the resources afforded to fire crews here on the mainland compared to those provided to island communities, such as those on both Aranmore and Tory Island where inhabitants and groups have voiced genuine concerns over the poor state of the equipment and resources available to fire personnel there.
“Specifically, I called on the Minister to outline if amendments to existing legislation are being considered in order to include a provision which would give greater recognition to fire services on our offshore islands, as well as to ensure parity between there with those found on the mainland.
“Unfortunately, and despite the argument put forward by island communities over recent weeks the Minister, in his response to my question, stated that his Government had no plans to amend the current Fire Services Act, and simply remarked that the siting of fire stations is a local matter to be determined by the relevant fire authority.
“While I appreciate that Local Authorities are the competent body for the allocation and provision of the resources which are made available to the fire service in the county, this does not absolve the Minister or this Government from their duty to ensure that fire services across this state are equitable, fit for purpose and are set up in such a way as to best guarantee the safety of the public – including those living on our islands.
“While I am disappointed by the Minister’s response, I am not surprised by his complete lack of understanding and his unwillingness to act in relation to this very serious matter.
“Keeping our communities safe should be a priority for any government, and fire safety is an important element of this duty of care. And yet, our island communities remain shamefully forgotten about in this regard, despite the increasing number of reports suggesting chronic levels of under sourcing of fire services on Donegal’s islands.
“I have also written to the Executive of Donegal County Council in relation to this issue, and following this I’ve been assured that the concerns which have been raised will be included as part of a review of its Fire Service Management team, the outcome of which will determine the Council’s response to this matter.
“In the interim, I pledge to continue to work closely alongside our island communities to ensure that their voices are heard despite the resistance from central Government to date.”Tags: