Sinn Féin TDs Eoin Ó Broin and John Brady have accused Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien of staggering arrogance in his failure to engage with the party’s proposals designed to address issues at the heart of the recruitment and retention crisis within the retained fire service.
They were responding after the government tonight voted to amend the Sinn Féin motion and remove any solutions to the crisis, which will now see an escalation of industrial action and an an all-out strike across the service next week.
Teachta Ó Broin said:
“There are a range of serious issues relating to pay, working conditions, and rostering, which need to be addressed urgently.
“Failure to do so will see the retained fire service become unsustainable due to the lack of people willing to perform the role under the current conditions members are subjected to.
“Yet again this week, Darragh O’Brien has displayed staggering arrogance in his failure to engage on this issue, and the anger he has provoked was there for all to see when dozens of retained firefighters stood up and walked out of the Dáil public gallery in disgust on Tuesday night.
“These firefighters travelled from all over the state to Dublin to attend the debate, which was an opportunity for the government to bring forward meaningful proposals that could end the need for an all-out strike next week.
“Instead, they were treated with contempt by Minister O’Brien.
“I once again urge him to review his response to prevent an all-out strike across the state next week. He must act immediately to bring an end to this crisis. His failure to do so is putting lives at risk.”
Teachta Brady said:
“Briefings from the Minister’s office earlier this week, which suggested that there would be a favourable statement from the Minister during the debate, led to a raising of expectations that we would see real progress. There has been anything but.
“Having continued to engage with firefighters since the debate, they are extremely angry and frustrated at what they felt was a dismissal by Minister O’Brien of their livelihoods in the amendment he made to our proposals..
“All the Minister had to offer was a commitment to look favourably at the needs of the firefighters for a liveable wage in the next round of public pay talks.
“It will now take an extraordinary gesture by the government to prevent a full-scale strike from next week across the state.
“What the retained firefighters were looking for, what we in Sinn Féin called for, was for the government to act on the thirteen recommendations arising out of its own report calling for reform of the fire service, which Minister O’Brien informed the Dáil he supported last November.
“Retained firefighters undertake a dangerous and demanding role on behalf of our local communities across the state.
“For this they pay a considerable price – they are on call 24/7, 351 days of the year for a miserly 99 cent an hour.
“If the serious issues at the heart of the crisis in the retained fire service are not addressed immediately, it will lead to increasing danger for both firefighters and members of the public.”