Heated debate on future of Fingal DFB ambulances

Cllr Eoghan O’Brien, Paul Moreland and Mayor Darragh Butler

Fingal Independent

As the warring sides in the continuing dispute over the future of Dublin Fire Brigade's emergency medical service enter into mediation, Fingal county councillors have had their say on the issue.

In two separate motions, Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Darragh Butler (FF) and Cllr Eoghan O'Brien (FF) called for the preservation of the fire ambulance service that has served the people of Fingal so well for so many years with Cllr O'Brien going further and calling for the model to be rolled out across the country.

A number of councillors were reluctant to step into the middle of the dispute which is currently being mediated in a process chaired by Kieran Mulvey. Cllr David O'Connor described the dispute as a 'turf war' between the fire brigade the HSE ambulance service and expressed doubt as to whether the council should get involved.

But Cllr Malachy Quinn (SF) while acknowledging this was a 'contentious issue' but said he did not see it as a 'turf war' but as a dispute caused by Dublin City Council's (who control the budget for Dublin Fire Brigade) failure to engage with Dublin Fire Brigade earlier.

Cllr Anne Devitt (NP) said that if someone needs an ambulance they 'do not care if its from Dublin Fire Brigade or the HSE' as long as there was a competent crew on board and it arrives in timely fashion. She said the debate was about how the service was delivered in the most effective way.

Cllr Brian McDonagh praised the fire ambulance service but said councillors needed to be careful what they said about the dispute and expressed the hope that the process that opposite sides in the dispute have now agreed to enter, will bring about a resolution.

Cllr Eoghan O'Brien (FF) rejected any suggestion that wanting to preserve the fire brigade's ambulance service was somehow a denigration of the HSE service. He said it was right the council should take a stand to defend the fire ambulance. He said that in an emergency, 'you want the nearest trained person to attend you' and often that is a fire service paramedic. Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Darragh Butler (FF) agreed and said he just wanted to see 'a system that works'.

The chief executive of Fingal County Council, while acknowledging concern over the rising costs of the fire brigade for all Dublin councils, suggested councillors should allow the current process of mediation to progress.