Emergency workers should never be taken for granted
THEY ARE the people you hope you never have to call, but are on standby in case you do. They turn up every day to be abused, punched, stabbed, kicked, spat and puked upon.
In a split second, they can also soothe, calm, counsel and save lives.
The men and women of the emergency services never know what their day might bring, from the routine and mundane to the truly horrific or terrifying.
So it really does get my goat when I hear of these frontline workers, who put their lives on the line for every one of us on a daily basis, being the target of stringent cuts in money-saving measures.
Talk to most paramedics, firefighters or gardai, and some of the experiences they go through on a monthly basis would take a lifetime for most people to forget.
And behind it all, these are ordinary men and women like you and me, doing extraordinary jobs.
Getting called out to a road traffic accident could mean cleaning up slight cuts and grazes (minor injuries as us journalists call them) or having to be faced with the worst of 'life-threatening' or 'fatal injuries.'
I write the words every day - you read them - yet the men and women who crew the ambulances, man the fire tenders, patrol the garda cars, rush the victims though our crowded Emergency Department and attempt to mend the shattered lives, get to experience the full force of the incident, the blood, the screaming, the horror, the devastated families.
Surely no amount of training or years can erase those memories when your head hits the pillow at night, and whatever amount of money is being paid is not nearly enough.
The Department of Justice is on the hunt for €60m in savings from the gardai payroll alone over the next three years. Our streets are getting more dangerous by the day, yet rural stations are being closed and manpower stripped from bigger stations instead of being stepped up. It really doesn't make me feel any safer knowing that if I am the victim of a crime or am sick or injured, whether or not someone will come when I call could be like the roll of a dice.
Because they are not always part of our day-to-day lives, it could be all too easy to forget the work that the emergency services actually do, and take it very much for granted.
They are the airbag that never goes off in the car, but we need anyhow - the insurance we pay and may never use.
Members of the two garda associations were among the 4,000 nurses, gardai, prison officers, paramedics and fire fighters protesting at the Basketball Arena in Tallaght last week.
With any luck we may never have to call on the services of this particular body of workers, but if we do, wouldn't you like to know that they were available, ready for work and being paid properly to save your life or the life of your loved one.
THE ST Patrick's Day Committee in Drogheda has done sterling work for the past upteem years getting this annual event off the ground and onto our streets each March - there's no question of that.
But is anyone else livid that the biggest town in Ireland is unable to have a parade through its main street because someone made a hames of the layout.
I know much has been written on this topic on the pages of this newspaper, but from my own point of view, the magnificent parade along West Street was a true highlight of the year.
The steps of St Peter's would be black with people, and it was three deep along the Golden Quarter Mile.
Who could forget the Abel Alarm floats that used to make their way down from Dublin for the day, to sail their way majestically across our proud street, a street which we are told would grind to a halt if a milk float tried to traverse it?
I watched a gigantic coach round the corner of West Street and Shop Street on Sunday night and it was cumbersome but not impossible.
I ask one more time, is there really no way a parade could cross our main street in safety, allowing the St Patrick's Parade to return to some semblance of its former glory?