ASPIRATIONS of getting a voluntary fire service off the ground in Daingean were dealt a devastating blow as Offaly County Council confirmed it will not support a voluntary fire and emergency service anywhere in the county.
As part of the battle to re-open the now closed fire stations in Daingean, Banagher and Kilcormac, the Save our Station - Daingean Banagher Kilcormac [SOS - DBK] wrote to Pat Gallagher, the County Manager last month requesting the support of the County Council for the training and resourcing of voluntary fire brigades in the three towns.
This week, Mr Gallagher issued a less then favourable reply to Jimmy Todd, of the SOS - DBK campaign dismissing any possibility of the Council supporting a new voluntary services by declining the group’s invite to support SOS-DBK in their endeavours.
Speaking to the ‘Offaly Express’, Mr Todd expressed his disappointment at the reply.
“We are very disappointed but not entirely surprised by the reply. It just proves what we have known all along that the closing of the fire stations was never about money or funding,” he said, pointing out that the group still intended to set up a voluntary service.
Mr Todd felt that the reply illustrated the ‘complete dismissal’ of rural communities by the Council.
“This is consistently their approach to us,” he said, believing that someone simply wants to withdraw all the services from the rural communities and centralise them.
In his letter to Mr Todd, Mr Gallagher outlined that in recent times voluntary fire services were replaced by retained or full time fire services countryside, citing various pieces of legislation pertaining to health and safety requirements in this regard.
The County Manager quoted the reasons for the disbandment of a voluntary services in Castlegregory, county Kerry earlier this year in support of Offaly County Council’s decision not to support the SOS - DBK voluntary initiative.
“The Safety, Health and Welfare Act 2005 puts a particular onerous responsibility on ‘directors and officers of undertakings’ to actively prove that they have proactively managed the safety and health of workers. In the case of Offaly County Council, these would be the elected members and the management of the Council,” the manager wrote.
Currently, the SOS-DBK campaign is working to arrange meetings with the local representatives in each of the areas.
“We are looking for their support on this. It is their role to support the local community and we want to outline our plans to them in moving forward with this,” outlined Mr Todd.
He assured people that this campaign wasn’t going to die away. “We are definitely going to pursue this as far as we can. The re-opening of the stations continues to be the long term goal of the group. This issue is not going away.”