Minister refuses to intervene in Castlerea fire crisis

Local Government Minister Eoghan Murphy says no date has been fixed for the reopening of Castlerea fire station – indicating he won’t be getting involved in the controversy.

New documents show he has ignored a call for the Defences Forces to be assigned to the station to provide cover until the ‘staffing issues’ in west Roscommon are resolved.

 

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Letters and emails released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal how the Department of Local Government has regularly received representations from local politicians since the temporary closure of Castlerea fire station in January.

In a strongly worded letter to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and local TDs, Independent councillor Nigel Dineen claims it’s ‘highly discriminatory that a selection of the population has been ‘singled out’ and left without a fire service for so long.

He claims it’s a miracle a tragedy hasn’t occurred and says the population of south Dublin wouldn’t be left without a fire service for so long.

Calling for the Office of Emergency Planning to be deployed to resolve the ‘crisis’, he suggested fire-fighters from various stations countrywide be seconded on a temporary basis to cover Castlerea fire station.

Alternatively, he called for Defence Forces personnel to be assigned to the area.

However, an internal department email shows Seán Hogan, of the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management, advised the department and minister not to get involved in a matter that’s the responsibility of Roscommon County Council.

Responding to Councillor Dineen’s letter, Local Government Minister Eoghan Murphy stressed that staffing arrangement are, indeed, the responsibility of the local authority.

He says there’s no date fixed for the reopening, but notes the council has started recruitment for part-time retained fire-fighters in Castlerea.

But it’s understood these positions haven’t been filled, with advertisements for the vacancies again published in a local paper this week.