A public demonstration will take place at Dublin City Hall next Monday (April 7th) at 5pm to protest against the threat to Dublin City Fire Brigade services, followed by an extraordinary general meeting which will take place at Liberty Hall at 6.45pm. Firefighters are being asked to attend in their full dress uniform. The demo and meeting have been organised by Siptu and IMPACT.
IMPACT has said that plans by the HSE – to remove the Dublin ambulance service from Dublin Fire Brigade – is unnecessary given the excellent and efficient service already provided.
Peter Nolan, national secretary for IMPACT’s Local Government division, said “The Dublin ambulance service operates on less than 10 per cent of the national service budget, yet responds to 40 per cent of ambulance calls nationally. That’s outstanding efficiency for a service delivered by dedicated men and women who do an excellent job. They face an uphill task every day, including the risk of assault and long delays at A&E departments.”
The emergency ambulance service in Dublin is operated by Dublin Fire Brigade, under Dublin City Council, while ambulances are operated by the National Ambulance Service under the HSE across the rest of the country. The HSE pays Dublin City Council around €9 million each year to provide the service, from a national budget of €134 million.
Last month, Dublin City Manager, Owen Keegan, rejected a motion passed by Dublin City councillors to suspend a planned review into ambulance services provided by Dublin Fire Brigade. The motion, which was put forward by the Labour group of councillors, sought to suspend the review until the HSE’s capacity review of the national ambulance service was completed.
Mr Nolan said that the extra review was creating additional costs, and he criticised the City Manager’s pursuit of the review despite a democratic decision by the council. “It raises a lot of questions for us as to what the real objectives are for this review. The city cannot afford to have that excellence undermined, and we are concerned that undermining the existing service might be the actual agenda of this review. Reports that the HSE are planning to take the service away from Dublin Fire Brigade only serves to undermine it further, and raise suspicions that the outcome of the review is a foregone conclusion.”
IMPACT and Siptu have jointly written to Martin Flaherty, one of the reviewers appointed by Dublin City Council, to notify him that unions would be declining the opportunity to make a submission to the review. “We do not see the value of participating in such a review where the outcome has already been pre-determined by the HSE. We are, however, fully prepared to make a full submission to an independent review body, which includes stakeholder representation and agreed terms of reference.”