Friday 14 December 2018

'Oversight will now be put right' - fire fighters honoured with special 1916 commemorative awards

Chief whip: Joe McHugh Picture: Tom Burke
Chief whip: Joe McHugh Picture: Tom Burke

Wayne O’Connor

Fire fighters whose contribution to the public was overlooked for more than a century are to be honoured with special commemorative medals.

Government Chief Whip Joe McHugh has secured a government commitment to recognise fire service personnel with the special 1916 commemorative awards.

He has been lobbying cabinet colleagues for two years to secure the recognition.

Members of other services were honoured for their roles in public service and given commemorative medals in various ceremonies in 2016. However, fire service personnel were over looked.

Mr McHugh said it was vital that fire men and women were also recognised for their vital work.

“That oversight will now be put right.  Fire crews, the men and women who work tirelessly day in, day out to save lives, are a vital part of the Local Authorities around the country.

“They will now be recognised with a national award in the same way as members of the Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána have been.”

He said he could understand that fire crews may have been hurt by the previous omission.

“I have spoken to many serving fire officers in my Donegal constituency and in other constituencies and there had been a feeling of hurt. This decision will put that right.

“I do not believe there was any intention to exclude them, more a reflection of the unique way fire departments in our country are organised across the regions.

“As a Government we had a responsibility to organise a national recognition and a commemorative medal to honour the brave men and women of our fire crews across the country and to mark 1916 in an appropriate and fitting fashion. Now we can do that for them and their families.”

Under the commitment the Government will specially commission medals to recognise the role played by people who worked in the fire and rescue services in 1916.

All fire and rescue staff who served in 2016 will receive the medal.

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