Fire Services: Motion (Resumed).

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 639 No. 2

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The following motion was moved by Deputy Ciarán Lynch on Tuesday, 9 October 2007:

[588]

calls for

Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:

Deputy Pat Breen: Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  I wish to share time with Deputies Timmins and Coveney.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Pat Breen: Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  As with previous speakers from last night, I firstly convey my sincere sympathies to the families of Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy, as well as to their fire fighting colleagues. These men died tragically on Wednesday, 26 September while tackling a blaze in Bray, County Wicklow. I also commend their families for appearing on the “Late Late Show” last Friday, as they must be praised for speaking out so soon after the loss of their loved ones and highlighting the need to reform fire services in this country.

Five years ago, the Government ordered a review of the fire services, with one key recommendation from the review being the need to establish a national fire authority. To date, nothing has happened in this regard and it is quite obvious we have not learned from the Stardust tragedy, despite similar recommendations coming from its investigations.

Bray, like many other large urban centres, is a fast-growing town with a population in the region of 32,000. What happened on that fateful morning in Bray could easily happen in any other town throughout the country. The scenario is similar in Ennis, which has a population of approximately 25,000. The fire service in Ennis station has a complement of 16 retained fire-fighters who must serve the greater area with a population of 60,000 people.

[590]Earlier this year, I highlighted the problems in my own constituency experienced by part-time fire-fighters. They have state-of-the-art equipment, are extremely well trained and train on a regular basis. I have seem them first-hand doing drills and dealing with mock accidents.

Their being on-call and part-time means they cannot have another job. The local authority refuses to sanction a full-time service because of the cost involved despite calls to Ennis fire station increasing by 20% over the past year. In 2006, it dealt with 569 calls, 98 more than the previous year. That is a very busy service, with an average of two calls per day. Similar towns, such as Sligo and Dundalk, have a full-time service despite them not receiving as many calls.

The time has come to reform the fire services. We need a more professional approach from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government as fire-fighters not only carry out their traditional duties, but must also increase their role in educating the public with fire awareness and safety. There should be visits to schools, as the Minister of State, Deputy Killeen, stated last night, and there should be above all else more inspections of our nightclubs, where many young people congregate at night. We do not want another Stardust tragedy.

Our fire-fighters throughout the country serve our communities with distinction, putting themselves in dangerous situations to save lives. Retained fire-fighters, no matter how alert, require five to seven minutes to mobilise, depending on traffic. We are all aware of the gridlock on urban roads, so those five or seven minutes could make all the difference in saving a valuable life.

The art of fire fighting has changed considerably recently. Thankfully, chimney fires are on the decrease but the service must now deal with chemical spills and fires, fires in high-rise buildings and apartments, horrific car accidents resulting from speeding and anti-social behaviour problems such as bogus calls. There were 100 bogus calls made in my own constituency of Clare last year.

Only last week thugs set alight an industrial bin outside my constituency office. The fire service was called to the scene but as the fire station in Ennis was already dealing with two fires, the Shannon service 22 km away had to deal with it. If another serious incident occurred that morning, there would have been serious pressure on the fire services and the call-out time would have been increased.

It was chilling to hear the words of the late Brian Murray’s family recollecting how he predicted somebody would die before the end of the year unless there was a major overhaul of the fire services. That speaks for itself. We will always remember the bravery of the New York fire services on 11 September 2001 and we will [591]remember the bravery of the two fire-fighters who lost their lives on that fateful morning of 26 September this year. They have made the ultimate sacrifice and their bravery and courage will be remembered.

Fine Gael will support and encourage reform of the fire services. We ask the Minister not to leave the report on the fire services lie in dust like other reports.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  I support this motion and extend my sympathy to the family, relatives and friends of the late Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy. I also extend sympathy to their colleagues in the fire service and the people of Bray.

People working in the security forces — fire services, the Garda or Army — are too often taken for granted. These personnel enter into dangerous situations and we must always remember they are someone’s son, mother or daughter.

The families and colleagues of these men, as well as the people of Bray, want more than kind words on this occasion. These men were well trained and professional in their work. Over a number of years we have prevaricated over the establishment of a fire authority recommended in the Farrell Grant Sparks report. It is imperative this authority is established to ensure we have a national standard for training and operation. In 2002, the then Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Cullen, stated in reply to a question about implementation of the recommendations of the report that “work to this end is continuing”.

We want a full-time service for Bray and similar towns around the country. That is not too much to ask. Such action is in the control of Wicklow County Council and I urge that body to provide such a service. The Government can establish the fire authority.

There should be an independent investigation of this affair apart from the current three. The Garda will investigate this incident with regard to criminality, the Health and Safety Authority will probably consider the safety system in work and it is unfair to even ask Wicklow County Council to examine the incident because they are the employers of those in the fire service.

Section 16 of the Fire Services Act 1981 gives the Minister the power to hold a sworn public inquiry and I call on the Minister, Deputy Gormley, to do this rather than wait for the outcome of reports which could take several months and will not establish the exact detail. The least we owe the families, the fire services and the public is to establish exactly what happened. The Minister has the power to do so under current legislation. I call on him or a spokesperson to commit to this before 8.30 p.m. because it is an easy task.

[592]In this country the Garda Síochána has a Scott medal for bravery and the military has distinguished service medals. The fire services only come under general auspices of the Bravery Act of the 1940s. It is time we considered this matter. The last fireman to die on duty in Wicklow was Paddy Dooley in 1970, who died in a well. The only recognition he received was from authorities in Scotland. I call on the Government to support this motion.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  As with all other speakers, I offer sympathy to the Murray and O’Shaughnessy families, as well as to the colleagues of the men, some of whom are probably in the Gallery this evening.

I commend the Labour Party on bringing this motion forward but I am disappointed the Government has decided to divide the House on it. The motion proposed by the Labour Party appears to be deliberately written in a manner making it easy for the Government to support it. It is neither divisive nor political, nor is it asking for anything outrageous. It seeks implementation of the key findings of a report commissioned by the Government in 2002 and is deliberately ambiguous in asking for a full-time fire service for areas with high populations or where the population has grown dramatically in a relatively short space of time.

The Government has chosen to make a long amendment, which states very little, although it of course offers sympathy. I would have thought that, considering the background to this motion and debate, it would have been an ideal opportunity for us as political parties and politicians in this House to accept a perfectly reasonable Opposition Private Members’ motion for a change.

My main argument is that we must recognise those working in the fire services, whether they are fighting fires or cutting corpses from crashed cars. These people are heroes in many ways, working 24 hours a day depending on what time they are called. The least we can do is ensure they receive top-class training and equipment in order to minimise the chances of losing their own lives or being severely injured in the course of duty. We are not doing that at present.

A fire-fighter from my constituency, whom I know well, telephoned me today and stated that the current fire appliance, as he calls it — we would term it a fire engine — at his station is over ten years old. It was purchased from the UK where it had been decommissioned. We are, therefore, buying equipment that has been rejected by fire services in England, transporting it to Ireland and expecting our part-time fire-fighters to use it in the line of duty. That is not acceptable and the system needs to be changed.

Unfortunately, the senior Minister is not present. I appeal to those present to consider the [593]motion tabled by the Labour Party and, in a gesture of solidarity, to accept it.

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Dick Roche): Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  With the agreement of the House, I propose to share time with Deputies Behan, Gogarty and Cuffe. There may be a fourth Deputy with whom I will also be sharing time later.

I welcome the opportunity to address the motion before the House. As a Member representing the constituency of Wicklow and as a resident of Bray, I can inform the House that the fatal fire on 26 September has had a devastating effect on the entire community of Bray and on surrounding areas. I join other Members in again expressing my deepest sympathy to the families of Mark O’Shaughnessy and Brian Murray and to the members of the fire service in County Wicklow on the loss of their colleagues.

In the days following this terrible tragedy, I visited the fire stations at Bray and Greystones to get an understanding of the events that led to this sad loss of life. When I spoke to fire service personnel, the depth of their loss, their courage and their dedication to the service and their community came through in equal measure. In addition to the pain of their loss, I also detected pain at some of the comments that were made regarding the tragedy and the capacity of the retained fire services.

Some media inquiries have been extraordinarily insensitive. Deputy McManus indicated that she was asked to state whom she regarded as being responsible. I commend her on the fact that she did not adopt that form of approach. Nor has the Deputy attempted to play politics with this matter. I received inquiries similar to those put to Deputy McManus as to who should be blamed. My view is that this was an horrendous tragedy and inquiries must be carried out and a report issued with minimum delay.

Nobody in Bray or Wicklow has any doubts about the skill, dedication, courage or capacity of retained fire service personnel. These individuals are exemplary in every regard. In addition to recording again my sincere condolences to the Murray and O’Shaughnessy families and the fire crews, I wish to acknowledge the service fire-fighters in Bray and others throughout the country provide in protecting the lives and property of citizens.

As one would expect, many questions have arisen in the aftermath of this terrible tragedy. Three investigations are under way and it is imperative that these be concluded as soon as possible. No good will come from a protracted period of inquiry. There have been calls for a fourth investigation, namely, an independent inquiry. I have an open mind on this issue. If such an examination would produce early results, it would be welcome.

[594]The fire service in Ireland has undergone immense change and development in recent years. The challenges that fire service personnel face are changing on a daily basis, as are the dangers with which they are presented in answering those challenges. The fire services change management programme 2005 introduced during my tenure at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government contains the roadmap setting out the approach to dealing with these challenges and the dangers that accompany them. It focuses on four priority areas for action: enhanced safety and welfare of fire fighters — I regard this as the top priority; community fire safety — a previous speaker referred to the importance of the community fire service; a competency-based approach to recruitment and career progression; and the development of a risk-based approach to emergency cover. The latter was covered in great length in the contributions of previous speakers. All four areas are of vital and equal importance.

The fire services change management programme finds its inspiration in the Farrell Grant Sparks report. Progress is being achieved in the four priority areas to which I refer. There has been some comment on the Farrell Grant Sparks report and its implementation. It is not true, as has been suggested in some quarters, that nothing has happened since the report was published. Action is under way on each of the four areas to which I refer. As Members are aware, the first report on the implementation of the programme was published as recently as June of this year.

The motion before the House calls for the establishment of a national authority for fire and civil protection-emergency services. I fully accept the bona fides of those putting forward this call. I suggest, however, that this is one area in respect of which we need to pause and consider. Virtually not a day goes by in the House without Members raising questions regarding the wisdom of consigning significant areas of public policy implementation to bodies outside the immediate control of Ministers. Sometimes such bodies are appointed to speed up the execution of public policy, whereas at other times the approach is adopted in order to remove sensitive areas of public policy from political interference. The HSE was established with the former objective in mind and An Bord Pleanála was set up for the latter reason.

Members on all sides regularly criticise the outcome of such assignment of responsibility to what are commonly called “quangos”, a term I dislike. It is said that we already have 600 such bodies in this country. This represents a very significant removal of public policy from democratic answerability. The first question we must ask in respect of this particular issue is whether it would be better to remove fire services and fire policy from [595]direct democratic control. I have my doubts in that regard.

The second point that arises regarding the creation of yet another national authority relates to resources and whether it would be better to establish such an authority or invest the available funds in the fire service itself. My view remains that all available funding should be channelled directly into the fire service — for the purchase of equipment and engines, providing training and developing community-based fire programmes — rather than into establishing yet another agency.

The third and most pressing consideration at the time was to move from the talking stage to the implementation stage. Members are correct that programmes and reports are often left lying around for years without any action being taken in respect of them. If Government were, as a first step, to become involved in institutional change, this would inevitably delay progress on implementation in other key areas such as those relating to safety and welfare, the creation of a community-based approach, the implementation of a competency-based approach to recruitment and career progression, and the development of a risk-based approach to emergency cover.

This is not to say that creation of a national authority should be ruled out for all time. That is certainly not the case. The decision made at the time was that the energy and resources should first be invested in the four key areas to which I refer. Perhaps the most succinct expression of this point is to be found in a constructive response from a SIPTU representative who appeared on a programme broadcast by East Coast Radio last week. The individual in question queried whether a group of ten or more people sitting around a table could really change anything.

The question of a full-time or retained service was also raised and I want to again commend Deputy McManus for her measured comments on this matter. As the Minister, Deputy Gormley, stated and as Deputy Timmins acknowledged, a decision on this matter must be taken by the local fire authority, Wicklow County Council. This has always been the case. I continue to support the concept of a full-time fire service for my home town. What public representative would not do so? While perusing my records yesterday in order to deal with a press query, I discovered that as long ago as 1997, when I was a member of Wicklow County Council, I submitted a proposal calling for a comprehensive study of the costs and benefits of a full-time service to be carried out. I suggested at the time that if it was not possible, as a result of a lack of resources, to provide a full-time service for Bray and north-east Wicklow, the possibility of providing a sub-regional service should be considered whereby the service from Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown would be transferred [596]into the area. This proposition did not win support.

I resurrected this possible approach in 2001 but, again, it was rejected. On that occasion, the idea did not find favour in either Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown or Wicklow. At present, Wicklow County Council has put a report on this matter out for public consultation. It will come, as is appropriate, before council members again in the near future. They will then be faced with the question that their counterparts in other local authorities have had to face regarding full-time fire services. Unless we decide to change the basis on which we organise the fire services and decide to opt for a full national service, the basic decision in respect of this matter will remain with local councils.

What happened in Bray two weeks ago was the most awful of events to befall a community, particularly one already bearing the scars of fire tragedies in the very recent past. The loss to the families involved is incalculable. No person in this House can begin to put a measure on the price those families have paid. There are questions that must be answered about the Bray tragedy. The sooner the reports are under way and completed, the better. The results of those inquiries and the changes that are under way in the change management programme can then be factored into the changes that must be introduced in the Wicklow fire services. When that happens, as was said last night, hopefully, some good will come from this awful tragedy.

Deputy Joe Behan: Information on Joe Behan  Zoom on Joe Behan  I join with Members on all sides of this House in expressing my sincere and heartfelt sympathy to the families of Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy on their untimely and tragic deaths. It is clear that Brian and Mark’s selfless courage in giving up their lives in order to save others has struck a chord deep in the hearts of all people, whether they knew the men or not, and the attendance of so many people at their funerals spoke volumes for the respect, gratitude and esteem in which these two brave fire-fighters were held.

I also agree wholeheartedly with the tributes paid in this House to the members of the emergency services in all their forms. The well-being of society and our national community depends on the dedication and commitment of these brave and good women and men and we can never express our gratitude too often for their service to us all. I acknowledge the presence in the Gallery of members of Brian and Mark’s families, their friends and colleagues in the fire services, including Councillor John Byrne, who is a member of Wicklow County Council, and Margaret Cahill, whose sister and nephew died in another fire in Bray and who has led a long campaign to establish a full-time fire service in Bray.

[597]It is, as has been said previously, extremely appropriate that the members of Dáil Éireann debate the terrible tragedy which occurred in Bray on Wednesday, 26 September. We, as representatives of the people, should reflect the people’s views on this matter and should also formulate the appropriate response to this terrible event. In that regard, I welcome this opportunity to express my views and acknowledge the spirit of the contributions made by Members on all sides of the House, particularly my constituency colleagues from the other parties.

It is clear, having read the Opposition motion and the Government amendment, that what unites us is far greater than that which divides us. We agree in our sincere expressions of sympathy to the bereaved families and colleagues of Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy. We agree in our acknowledgement of the courageous and dedicated service of all members of the fire service, both full-time and retained, which is given to the public across the country. We also agree that a number of independent investigations are necessary in order to inform us as to the likely cause or causes of the tragic fire on 26 September. I, for one, totally respect the independence of the Health and Safety Authority and the Garda Síochána in this matter.

There may not be full and total agreement on the extent to which the Farrell Grant Sparks report recommendations have been implemented, but I note the comments made by Deputy Liz McManus on local radio this morning when she acknowledged that at least some work has been done in implementing the recommendations. The Minister of State, Deputy Roche, has outlined those here. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, in his speech to the House the previous evening committed himself to reviewing progress achieved to date in this matter and, furthermore, to consider all aspects in reaching his conclusions.

I put on the record of this House my unflinching support for the provision of a full-time fire service for the Bray area. I have attended the aftermath of fires in Bray, too numerous to mention, in the past 20 years and, on these occasions, I have sympathised with families who have lost loved ones in terrible circumstances. I have committed myself to those families and I do so again tonight. I will not rest until a full-time fire service is established in Bray and its environs. The case for such a service is compelling and conclusive and the vast majority, if not all the people of Bray, agree with me on this issue.

In this regard, as Deputy McManus generously acknowledged last night, when I was Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, I requested that a feasibility study be drawn up by the council to establish the framework under which a full-time fire service could be provided. This study is [598]now complete. It has gone on public display and many local people and campaigners have contributed their views. The matter is now in the hands of Wicklow County Council and I urge councillors and council officials alike to work together to achieve that which we all wish to see achieved.

An issue such as this should remain above party politics. I agree that Dáil Éireann should, if possible, unite on the essential principles we wish to establish in response to the terrible tragedy in Bray and, accordingly, I appeal to all Members of this House to unite and support the Government amendment. This is because it acknowledges the contribution made by Mark O’Shaughnessy and Brian Murray, indicates a willingness to implement necessary changes to the fire service on foot of the investigations into the fire and correctly acknowledges that the only organisation which can establish a full-time fire service in Bray is Wicklow County Council. This is the correct response to the dreadful event of 26 September and I urge all Members to support it. Go raibh maith agat.

Deputy Charlie O’Connor: Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  What time is available to me?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Deputy has just under five minutes.

Deputy Charlie O’Connor: Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  I will take slightly less than that because I know colleagues wish to speak. I offer my sympathy and wish to be associated with the expressions of sympathy which have been made inside and outside the House in respect of the sad deaths of Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy.

This is one of those occasions where those of us who do not know people who die in tragedies are often deeply affected. I remember speaking to Deputy McManus, if she does not mind me mentioning her, and telling her that I was struck by her interviews in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy and the manner in which it affected people. I think she reflected the fact that it affected us all.

Since the tragedy, I was struck by the courage and attitude of the families who have had to grieve in public, which I have no doubt must be very difficult, and yet have still focused on what they see as the campaign for what is right. In that sense, we must not only support them but do what we can to facilitate the points of view they are expressing.

I compliment Deputy Ciarán Lynch for his efforts in this regard because this is a very important debate and it is right that parliamentarians of all sides have an opportunity to pay tribute, not only to the fallen fire persons but to those in the fire services in Wicklow and throughout the country. All of us should do that. All of us who go to our beds at night and get up in the [599]morning feel safe because we know the emergency services are there and their record around the country is excellent.

In respect of the tragedy, I remember being struck by how terrible it must be for families to imagine people going to work as we all do every morning, breaking off their normal work to do heroic public service and not coming home. I do not live in Wicklow and did not know the men involved but, as a public representative, I want to say how affected my community and I have been.

I notice that colleagues have made brief reference to the situation in their own constituencies. I do not want to talk much about my constituency but, like colleagues, I want to take the opportunity to record my appreciation for the emergency services in Dublin South-West and to put on record that in this debate, it is right that we all raise issues of concern to us with regard to the emergency services. I noticed last night that colleagues did that.

I have often made the point that there is only one fire station located in my constituency of Dublin South-West. As the fire personnel in the Gallery know, there is only one fire station in South Dublin County Council’s administrative area. The local fire station is located in Belgard which was upgraded to a two-pump station in 2001. Fire services in my area are provided by the city council. This debate will continue but there are other issues relating to the fire services which I hope in future weeks we will debate.

Deputy Paul Gogarty: Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  I join my fellow parliamentarians in offering my sincere condolences to the families of Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy. At this time, we think of all members of the fire services who have given their lives in carrying out their duties to the highest calibre.

The efforts made by members of the fire services are often underestimated, usually going without recognition except when tragedy strikes. The members of the fire service are there all the time, even carrying out extra duties. For example in the Dublin Mid-West constituency, funding for a defibrillator was raised, largely through the idea of Deputy Billy Timmins. Of their own volition, members of the fire services will train volunteers in the use of the defibrillator. That is just one example of how they contribute to the community.

I thank Deputy Ciarán Lynch and the Labour Party for the opportunity to speak on this motion. It is a sombre time so I will not get into party politics. I acknowledge the comments of the Minister, Deputy John Gormley, that it would be premature to do further work until the investigations under way are completed. The Minister stated that any necessary changes arising from the investigations would be examined and acted upon [600]by him. I am not an expert in this area, but a family member was involved in a tragedy in a serious fire.

I would like the original report on fire services, completed five years ago, to be implemented quicker than it has been. I welcome the publication of an interim report in June 2007 and the fact that phase 1 of the programme has been completed. This debate is necessary, not just in terms of paying respects, but also as a kick-start to a sometimes slow bureaucracy.

There are some relevant issues pertaining to the Dublin Mid-West constituency, particularly in the new town being developed in Adamstown and Lucan, one of the fastest growing towns. Despite this, Lucan does not have a fire station. While a fire station was allocated to Adamstown, the local authority noted when An Bord Pleanála made its decision on the Adamstown project that there were no plans by Dublin Fire Brigade to construct a new fire station there but it was prudent to have one set aside. Given that it is the city authority rather than the local authority that is in charge, I hope through this forum to put pressure on the fire services and Dublin City Council on the need for a fire station in Lucan, which has a population of over 36,000. Adamstown, when completed, will add an extra 25,000 people to population. With local traffic gridlock and road works on the M50, it is impossible for the fire services to reasonably carry out its role from Blanchardstown or Tallaght fire stations. We are lucky a major tragedy has not yet happened.

I raised the matter of the nearby part-time service in Leixlip, which covers Lucan, but there was a negative response from the fire service and other sources. I understand the logic of each local authority having its responsibility but at the same time common sense dictates that if there is a fire station nearby to an area not properly served by one, it should be used until one is built.

Many fire stations, including Blanchardstown and Tallaght, do not have equipment that can reach further than a seven-storey building. Adamstown’s proposed fire station will need equipment that can reach the proposed 13-storey buildings for the town project.

Deputy Ciarán Cuffe: Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Two weeks ago when I was in my office, I heard gasps of shock from next door when my colleague, Senator Déirdre de Búrca, heard the dark news from Little Bray. The grief we felt can never match the loss of loved ones for a family. As a child growing up off Ballyman Lane, Shankill, I could hear the sirens from Bray when the fire services were called out. We always paused to pray and think of those who voluntarily gave their time to help others. It is still the case in Bray that people voluntarily put their lives at risk for others and sometimes lives are lost.

[601]I agree with most of this Private Members’ motion. We must examine a national authority to co-ordinate fire and civil protection. When I consider in my lifetime the expansion of Bray and Shankill, growing from several hundred people to 20,000, the location of a full-time service in the area must be examined. The several inquiries under way must run their course. After this we can examine what has been left out.

The fire station in Kill Avenue is five miles away from Bray. It is not far and we must examine how best existing resources are being used. I do not believe county boundaries can be an absolute line in ensuring the right services are in the right place at the right time.

From my previous occupation as an architect, I know much more can be done in fire safety for buildings. The issuing of fire alarms has improved in recent years but I am not convinced enough has been done in ensuring compliance with building regulations. We must revisit the issue of compliance, a matter which I raised in the Twenty-ninth Dáil. New and older buildings must be inspected to ensure they reach a high level of fire protection.

A feasibility study has been undertaken for County Wicklow but we must examine the expanding areas of Dublin with a view to providing the same if not a higher level of fire services than is being provided.

Nothing can bring the two fire-fighters back. There is an onerous responsibility on the shoulders of my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy John Gormley. We will look carefully at the issues raised in the motion before the House. We all grieve for those who were lost. We have a huge responsibility that it is not an omission on our part to ensure the highest level of protection for those who work full time and voluntarily in our fire service.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I wish to share time with Deputies Brian O’Shea, Willie Penrose, Jack Wall, Kathleen Lynch and Joanna Tuffy, with the permission of the House.

I thank our party leader, Deputy Eamon Gilmore, and our spokesperson, Deputy Ciarán Lynch, for bringing this motion before the House. The way a motion such as this comes before the House in Private Members’ time is that the party debates what the most important issue of the time is. We have such an opportunity about every three weeks. On this occasion, Deputy Liz McManus pressed on us the necessity and importance of having this matter debated in the House. I want to thank Deputy McManus for ensuring this issue received the priority it deserves, hence this debate tonight.

I welcome the colleagues and families of the fallen firemen. Along with others I want to express my sympathy to them on the tragedy that [602]has occurred. Perhaps it might be some consolation for them that here in the national Parliament the tragedy is now being debated and the issues raised by the firemen repeatedly before their death, and by their colleagues since and before, are now being discussed by the Dáil. The tragedy therefore becomes a catalyst for good — and only good can come from our debating it here. It is a very heavy price to pay for the causation of a debate in the House. I repeatedly ask myself why we have to wait for a tragedy to move on what people directly involved, such as the firemen, constantly tell us is a requirement.

I want to pay tribute to the existing fire service. In my constituency it is entirely a retained or part-time service. There is a station in Newbridge, Naas, Athy, Maynooth, Monasterevin and Leixlip. We have 56 part-time firemen and four people, full-time, in charge. There were 1,774 calls last year. They cover a population of 186,000 60,000 homes, roughly. We have industrial complexes, a university, high rise buildings and the service is simply not capable of providing the coverage that is required on a part-time basis. There is an absolute necessity to ensure we have a full-time fire service, not just in Wicklow and neighbouring Kildare, but in the country generally. A consultants’ report has been before Government for a considerable time advocating that.

What we are proposing in the Dáil this evening is straightforward. We are proposing that Dáil Members support the call by their colleagues for an independent investigation into the death of the firefighters. The motion regrets the failure of the Government to implement in full the recommendations of the Farrell Grant Sparks review of fire safety and fire services in Ireland submitted to the then Department of the Environment and Local Government in January 2002. It calls for the establishment of a national authority for fire and civil protection emergency services. That is one of the key recommendations of that review. It calls, as well, for the establishment of full-time fire services in areas of high population such as Bray.

The Government, comprising Fianna Fáil, the Green Party and the Progressive Democrats, is rejecting that call and proposing a meaningless collection of platitudes as an amendment. I should not expect one word of that amendment to be different if the Green Party was not in office. Deputy John Gormley, as the Green Party Minister responsible, might as well have been in Opposition for all the effect he had on what is before the House tonight. Let us examine what the amendment contains to remind the House what is being suggested. The Government’s essential bottom line is that arrangements for the provision of fire services in all areas of the country are a matter for the relevant fire authorities, which expend an estimated €240 million per [603]annum. It is saying, in effect, that local authorities must provide the fire service. This is not just a matter for local authorities, but a national issue that requires a decision at national level. There must be funding provision at national level for full-time fire services in the local authorities. Implementation at local level is a matter for local authorities but decisions and funding are required from Government at national level.

Deputy Brian O’Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  I, too, want to extend my profound sympathy to the families and colleagues of Mr. Brian Murray and Mr. Mark O’Shaughnessy on the terrible tragedy that befell both those brave men, and to the members of the full-time and retained fire service across the country.

I compliment my colleague, the Labour Party leader, Deputy Eamon Gilmore as well as Deputies Ciarán Lynch and Liz McManus for bringing this most important Private Members’ motion before the Dáil. The motion is essentially seeking two things, namely, the establishment of a national fire authority and full-time fire services in areas of high population such as Bray. To a large extent these two issues are interlinked, but the national fire authority comes first because it will facilitate the effective development of the fire services. As regards the establishment of the national authority, in his speech last night, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy John Gormley, stated that there were a number of differing views on the merits of a fire authority. It would have helped the debate, I believe, had the Minister shared these differing views with the House, but effectively this major issue was side-stepped. The Minister of State, Deputy Tony Killeen did not mention the national fire service at all in his speech.

The final Farrell Grant Sparks report, Review of Fire Safety and Fire Services in Ireland, which was issued in January 2002, contained a recommendation on the setting up of a national fire authority. Just prior to the general election in 2002, on 10 May, a letter issued on behalf of the Taoiseach stating: “Fianna Fáil believes that the report’s recommendations constitute a balanced package of measures, which must be implemented without cherrypicking.” In May 2004, the then Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Martin Cullen, stated his belief in the need for a national fire authority that “provides leadership and direction and delivers an effective national response which local authorities working on their own cannot bring about”. Deputy Cullen stated he would bring firm proposals to Cabinet seeking the establishment of a new national fire authority. This authority would be the over-arching body for fire services in Ireland.

[604]In December 2004 I tabled a Dáil question to the new Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Dick Roche, asking him whether the proportion of the €1 million set aside by his predecessor for setting up the national fire authority had been spent in 2004. He informed me that other than the €19 million provided for fire service capital projects, no other money had been spent in 2004 on the implementation of the review. Also on that date, I asked when the Minister intended to set up the national fire authority, but I got no direct answer to that question. Again, when I asked the Minister in January 2007, about the proposals he had on setting up the national fire authority, he replied that his priority under the fire services change programme was not to pursue further institutional change at this time, but to use available resources to bring about direct improvements in these key areas.

This is not a time for scoring political points, as other Members have pointed out. The Minister, Deputy Gormley, said last night that the establishment of a national fire authority was considered prior to the launch of the changed programme and since the Bray tragedy has again been the subject of debate. There is a real need, I believe, for a national fire authority. The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has the power in this area, but responsibility rests with the local authorities. The local authorities are at all times in the front line of fire services and any tragedies that may occur are disastrous. The Department also controls the funding for all capital projects. I understand some fire services still purchase secondhand vehicles, which have had a full life in the UK as frontline vehicles, just to keep their service operating.

Deputy Willie Penrose: Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  I compliment my colleague, Deputy Ciarán Lynch, our party leader, Deputy Gilmore, and Deputy McManus on tabling this important motion. Like the whole population and all my fellow parliamentarians, I was shocked and saddened to learn of the deaths of Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy who died in the line of duty fighting a fire in Bray on 26 September last. Like everyone in the House, I join in the expressions of heartfelt and deepest sympathy to the families and colleagues of these brave men who lost their lives protecting others, like ourselves, on that fateful day. At a minimum, we owe it to these men and others who have lost their lives to act now and, in particular, to focus on the recommendations and, more particularly, the central recommendation of the Farrell Grant Sparks review of January 2002 which was the establishment of a national fire authority. We must stop foot dragging, putting forward excuses and looking for more reports and analysis. We must ensure an appropriate response is forthcoming. It should be formulated now.

[605]I could not but be struck watching Mary Murray, who I understand is in the Visitors Gallery, on national television in the past week or so. She gave an analysis, assessment and proposals in this regard which were to the point and profound. If we took on board what she said — she was obviously acting on lots of information she gathered from her late husband and his colleagues — we would know how to tackle this problem. There is no need for any further reports or analysis in this regard.

I have seen at first hand the excellent emergency services working on our behalf throughout this country and I salute them. We see their bravery, courage, dedication, commitment and discipline. I refer to the fire and rescue services in my constituency, in particular, in County Westmeath. Mullingar, Kilbeggan and Castlepollard are under the control of Westmeath County Council while the Athlone fire service is under that of Athlone Town Council. The 50 personnel involved in these services have done tremendous work. There are 430 to 440 fire incidents each year in the Mullingar area. The same applies to Athlone. There are approximately 200 or 300 such incidents each year in the Castlepollard-Kilbeggan areas.

One of the issues that arises, and about which I have heard first hand from the firemen, is one which could be tackled tomorrow. There are no standards or guidelines in respect of the extent of fire cover areas. For example, Mullingar fire station services Kinnegad and up to the eastbound carriageway close to Enfield. There has been a call by community groups and others for the provision of a new fire station in Kinnegad which, as most people know, has experienced a significant increase in population and which serves an ever-expanding hinterland.

The Minister of State, Deputy Roche, made some interesting and thought provoking points on the establishment of quangos. It is true the establishment of some quangos has diminished the role of this Parliament. However, the same argument cannot be made in regard to a national fire authority. Putting in place such an authority would ensure uniformity of standards throughout the country and would eliminate the situation that prevails in which there are rostered calls in some areas where the firemen involved are guaranteed they will be on call as opposed to some other areas where such a rostered system is not employed.

The establishment of a national fire authority has the full support of all the chief fire officers in the country. Let us stop the foot dragging and procrastination. The Farrell Grant Sparks report was commissioned and came forward with a central recommendation. As I said, there is no need for further reports or feasibility studies. Let us do what is right now.

[606]We must acknowledge the invaluable and essential role played by the retained fire service and its role in fighting fires and protecting lives and property in their communities and further afield. I have seen at first hand their arrival at the scene of accidents and how they often put their own lives at risk to protect and save our lives and the trauma with which they must deal.

The thrust of the motion calls for the establishment of a national fire authority. It would ensure maximum co-ordination and a uniformity of structure of training and service delivery throughout the country. If funding is required, let central Government step into the breach. As described by my colleague, Deputy Ciarán Lynch, a fireman’s job is one of duty which is underpinned by the courage of going to work each day and having to deal with and manage dangerous and life-threatening situations. We must commend the members of the full-time and retained fire service on their great work on behalf of us and the wider community.

Deputy Jack Wall: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  I, too, thank my colleagues, Deputies Ciarán Lynch, Gilmore and McManus, for tabling this motion. It is an opportunity for us to speak on a very important matter but, unfortunately, the debate is tinged with great sadness due to the deaths of two heroic firemen in Bray. Like Deputy Penrose, I was taken by Mrs. Murray’s knowledge of the fire service and the need for improvements and changes when she spoke on almost all the news stations and some of the television stations. It was obvious that knowledge was not learned overnight but in conversation with her late husband in the Murray household over a long time. It was amazing to hear this woman make a simple plea to the Government on what was wrong and what would rectify the situation.

This reminds me of when I was 14 years of age, which was neither today nor yesterday, when something similar happened in regard to the ambulance service in Kildare. There was a very poor ambulance service at that time and there was a tragedy in which three people were killed. Suddenly the Government, the local authority and everyone was interested in it, which brought about a momentum to make changes. Unfortunately, the same circumstances apply in this case.

We regularly see this Government, which is in its third term in office, create an authority to stymie debate in this House. This is another instance in which it is using the same mechanism but in a different format. It is saying the fire service does not come under the remit of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government but under that of local authorities and that we must fight for this in our own areas. That is where a big mistake is being made. Once again the Government is using flippant words to prevent the establishment of a national fire authority that would benefit communities [607]which need a fire service. It is time the Minister stood up and was counted. This is another area in which Fianna Fáil has decided to protect funding. It does not want to increase funding to the fire service to provide a much needed service which will become even greater as we move forward.

  8 o’clock

Demographics show that many towns and cities are overcrowded with cars and vehicles which creates a problem for retained fire-fighters. As Deputy Stagg rightly said, we are very proud of that service in County Kildare because it has never let us down, but it is under constant pressure due to the demographics of towns and villages. We are looking more and more towards a full-time service. In many cases, the difference between life and death is minutes. The same is the case with the ambulance service. Those vital first five or six minutes make all the difference. The fire station is at the edge of my town and many of the retained fire-fighters work in the town. It is difficult for them to get through the town to the fire station and those minutes mean so much to so many.

Tonight represents a landmark for the Green Party. It is a landmark for Deputy Gormley, as Minister, because it presents him with an opportunity to say something needs to be done and that his party will lead the charge and not allow Fianna Fáil to decide against putting a national authority in place.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  I thank Deputy Ciarán Lynch, Deputy Liz McManus and the Labour Party in general for affording me the opportunity to debate this issue, about which the entire country is talking. It goes without saying that we extend our sympathy to the families of Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy. A tragedy such as that which befell these two firefighters could happen to any one of our husbands, brothers or relations in the morning.

Someone once said that if something is worth doing, and if it is established in one’s head as the right thing to do, it becomes easy. There were gestures of sympathy from the Government side but sympathy will not take us very far on this issue. It is obvious from Mary Murray’s many interviews that she is a woman of incredible courage. Sympathy is well and good but she wants action and to ensure that the firefighters in the VisitorsGallery will not be put in the same position as their comrades who died.

We must ask ourselves whether we consider a fire service essential and the answer ought to be “Yes”. Would we adopt the attitude to the fire service in respect of the health service or the education system? Would we tell the people in Bray that because their rate base is not big enough to provide for a health service, they cannot have one? Would we tell them that because there is not enough money in the town and its environs [608]to provide primary and secondary schools, they cannot have them? We would not because it would be outrageous and an act of lunacy, yet this is what we are saying about the fire service, which is essential.

The last people we want to see at our doors are the garda and fireman, but when we need them and when they react on time with the equipment necessary to save our lives, they have our undying gratitude. If we consider the fire service essential, as we ought to do, we cannot tell the people of Bray they cannot have it because they cannot afford it. The Government must deal with this issue. If it is a question of money, it must come up trumps. The days of telling people they cannot have a service because they cannot afford it are long gone and the comrades of the two fallen men and their families will not stand by any longer and accept the existing service when they clearly know it is only the endeavours of those involved that have prevented tragedies in the past and will continue to do so in the future. We must step up to the mark.

Inequality of access to services must be prevented. Women in the south have a greater chance of dying of cancer than anybody else because they do not have the same access to services as women in the rest of the country. This is not good enough for us and, in the context of the fire service, it is most definitely not good enough for the people of Bray or the rest of the country.

I call on the Government to recognise its responsibility to ensure the health and safety of the people. If there are areas where the rate base is not sufficiently broad or strong to support essential services, the Government must step in and provide the necessary funding.

Deputy Joanna Tuffy: Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  I, too, sympathise with the Murray and O’Shaughnessy families. It is very important that immediate action by the Government be the outcome of this debate. The action should be as outlined in the Labour Party motion and include the implementation of the recommendations of the Farrell Grant Sparks review. A national fire authority and full-time fire services should be established and there should be an independent investigation of the Bray fire tragedy. As Deputy Jack Wall stated, it is very important that the existing momentum lead to change, beginning from now.

The Farrell Grant Sparks review indicates that very impressive steps were taken by the consultants to ensure a broad and inclusive consultation process in the lead-up to its publication. There were written submissions and e-mail feedback and 40 stakeholders were contacted. Some 200 representative groups were invited to meetings of seven regional fora, and there were in excess of 160 meetings and consultations. The model of consultation was very good and must have led to great expectations among those involved. [609] However, it must be very disillusioning for them to realise the recommendations of the report have not been implemented five years after its publication.

The most important point of the report was the call for a national fire authority. Let me address points Deputies made in this regard and the reference to a quango. I was involved in local government and very protective of its powers. The national fire authority would centralise functions that are currently dispersed, including those of the local fire safety authorities and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. It would very much retain the national and local government functions. The idea behind the national fire authority is to inform local authorities about their functions. Local authorities do not have the national standards required to ensure they carry out their role properly.

The key recommendation of the report was that the authority be set up. Page 93 recommends that the authority be announced and brought into being immediately, given the acceptance of the recommendations by the Minister. I urge the immediate implementation of the recommendations, including the establishment of the national fire authority.

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Deputy Batt O’Keeffe): Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  On behalf of the Government, I acknowledge the presence of the families and friends of Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy, who have been with us for the past two nights. I extend my condolences to all those connected to the two men, including members of the fire service in Bray.

I thank all the Deputies who contributed to this debate and commend them on their measured approach thereto. Many points have been made by them on the provision of a fire service. The House is agreed that the fire services provide a great public service. The retained fire service is a highly trained, well-equipped and professional service. Together with the full-time service personnel, the personnel in the retained service serve their communities in every part of this country with the utmost dedication. I express the Government’s gratitude to all of them tonight.

I wish to address several issues raised in the debate. I reiterate what the Minister said last night on the provision of a full-time fire service in Bray and elsewhere in the country. Some Deputies suggested the Government was in some way ignoring this issue by passing responsibility for decisions on the type of service provided locally to local fire authorities. The fact is that the provision of a fire service is the statutory responsibility of the relevant local fire authority.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  If the Government gave the authority the money——

[610]Deputy Batt O’Keeffe: Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  In this case, the relevant authority is Wicklow County Council.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Minister of State is blaming the council.

Deputy Batt O’Keeffe: Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  The fire authority is required under section 10 of the Fire Services Act 1981 to make provision for the delivery of fire services in its functional area, including the establishment and maintenance of a fire brigade service, and to make adequate provision for the reception of, and response to, calls for the assistance of that service. The Minister does not have any discretion in the matter.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Perhaps he should resign altogether.

Deputy Batt O’Keeffe: Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  The Minister and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government must have regard——

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  What are the Ministers opposite doing?

Deputy Batt O’Keeffe: Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  ——to the provisions of the 1981 Act which, after all, was passed into law by the Dáil.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Is there not a majority on that side of the House?

Deputy Batt O’Keeffe: Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  I remind the Members of the House who have referred to risk assessment that a risk-based approach to fire cover standards is one of the projects being advanced under the fire services change programme. When that project has been completed, it will help the fire authorities to carry out a risk analysis in their functional areas when determining the cover and resources which are needed. I can assure the Opposition Deputies who have been calling for an independent investigation into the Bray tragedy that three investigations, being undertaken by the Garda Síochána, the Health and Safety Authority and Wicklow County Council, are under way. The Minister, Deputy Gormley, has asked the three authorities to make the findings of their investigations available to the Department. He has stated categorically that he will consider any lessons learned from the outcomes of those investigations as he works to support and develop fire services in his role as Minister. He is awaiting the outcome of the investigations. A number of Deputies suggested during the course of this debate that successive Governments have not adhered to or implemented the recommendations of the report of the tribunal of inquiry into the 1981 Stardust fire and the 2002 Farrell Grant Sparks review of fire safety and services.

[611]Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  The primary objectives of those reports have been ignored.

Deputy Batt O’Keeffe: Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  Such suggestions are not accurate. All of the recommendations made in the Stardust report received full and careful consideration and were either implemented or taken into account as fire safety policy was formulated and local authority fire services were developed in the intervening period. Very significant improvements have been made in all areas of the fire service. Investment has been made in infrastructure, equipment, more staff, better training, improved communications and in legislation. Most of the recommendations made in the Farrell Grant Sparks review have been implemented.

Last night, the Minister, Deputy Gormley, and the Minister of State, Deputy Killeen, outlined the significant progress being made in each of the four areas being advanced under the fire services change programme, which has been put in place by the Government to implement the key fire safety and fire services recommendations of Farrell Grant Sparks. The progress report that was prepared after phase 1 of the programme was published by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government last June and can be downloaded from the Department’s website.

The change programme needs to be considered in conjunction with the strengthened fire safety legislation of 2003. The major emergency development programme, which was approved by the Government on foot of the review of the framework for major emergency management, was commissioned in late 2004. The success of the capital investment programme has seen fire services infrastructure, including fire stations, fire appliance fleet, fire station equipment, communications and mobilisation facilities, brought on a par with the best international standards. The management structure in local authority fire services has also been strengthened. It is clear that many of the essential elements for the provision of an effective and modern fire emergency service are in place. The Government believes that such important services, which are aimed at securing the safety of the public, can benefit from an continuing focus on appropriate modernisation initiatives. The Government is committed to the process of change. The Minister, Deputy Gormley, said last night that he will consider all options before he reaches any conclusions on the next phase of the change programme. The Government will continue to bring about real and substantive change so the fire service continues to be in line with international standards.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I wish to share time with Deputy Ciarán Lynch, who proposed the original motion.

[612]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I thank Deputies Lynch and McManus for the comprehensive argument they made last night in support of the Labour Party motion. As someone who lives in Shankill, just two miles from Bray, I have close connections with the community in that town. Therefore, I understand the real sense of shock that was felt in Bray and throughout the country at the untimely and tragic deaths of Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy while fighting a fire at a disused factory in the town two weeks ago. Having spent many years as a trade union official representing full-time and retained firefighters, I appreciate the work that is done by firefighters.

I hope the families of Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy will take some consolation from the genuinely warm tributes which were paid to both men during this debate over the past two nights. While there may be differences in opinion among the various parties in the House about how to deal with the broader organisational issues which have been raised by the two deaths, every Deputy from every party acknowledges the heroism of the two men and the absolute dedication to duty they displayed, not just in responding to this fire but also to the many other fires and incidents they were called to deal with during their service with Bray fire brigade.

Death is always tragic, but if there can ever be nobility in death, it is when people lay down their lives to save others. Thankfully, the loss of fire brigade personnel while fighting fires has been a relatively rare phenomenon in this country. Reliance on the fire brigade to deal with a simple chimney fire or to cope with the aftermath of a serious accident is something we take for granted. Our society could not function without knowing there are brave men and women at the other end of a telephone who will respond at a moment’s notice and come to our rescue. As Deputy Kathleen Lynch said earlier, the fire service is an essential service.

This is not the first time we have had a shocking fire tragedy in this country. A fire at the Noyeks showrooms in Parnell Street in Dublin in March 1972 killed eight people. The largely forgotten fire at the Central Hotel in Bundoran in August 1980 killed ten people, including five children. Worst of all, and seared on the collective memory of anyone who lived through that period, was the shocking Stardust disaster that took the lives of 49 young people on St. Valentine’s night 1981. While we would have had many more such disasters were it not for the courage and commitment of members of the fire service, each of the fires I have mentioned raised questions about the adequacy of our fire service. In each case, there were reviews, reports and recommendations, many of which were never implemented.

[613]The Noyeks fire was followed by the establishment of a working party by the then Minister for Local Government. Large parts of the working party’s report, which was published in 1975, were never implemented. The Government established a formal tribunal of inquiry following the Stardust fire. While the tribunal did not reach any conclusions about the origin of the fire that satisfied the relatives of those who died, Mr. Justice Keane produced a number of recommendations that were not implemented. One of the key recommendations was that an inspectorate be established to oversee the fire service, but no such inspectorate exists, 26 years after the Stardust tragedy.

The next major step in efforts to improve the fire service and learn from the lessons of past disasters was the decision in 2001 to ask a consultancy firm, Farrell Grant Sparks, to produce a report on this country’s fire services. The report promptly produced by the firm, Review of Fire Safety and Fire Services in Ireland, was submitted to the Department of the Environment and Local Government in January 2002. It was not until February 2005, however, that the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government announced the initiation of the fire services change programme, which was supposed to implement the Farrell Grant Sparks recommendations. The Government refused to implement the key recommendation of that report — the proposal to establish a national fire authority — despite a commitment given during the 2002 general election campaign by the Taoiseach’s programme manager that it would do so. In a letter to which Deputy Brian O’Shea has already referred, sent on 10 May 2002 to the secretary of the chief fire officers’ association, the Taoiseach’s programme manager said:

The Minister of State, Deputy Dick Roche and Deputy Behan, as well as the Minister of State, Deputy Batt O’Keeffe, have again suggested that of course this is a responsibility for the local authorities. The point is that the establishment of a full-time fire service for major centres such as Bray is inextricably bound up with the need to establish a national fire authority because at the end of the day, this comes down to a question of resources.

I cannot put it more eloquently than the way in which the former Minister, Deputy Martin Cullen, put it on 5 May 2004, when he travelled to Wexford and addressed the annual conference of the chief fire officers’ association. I quote from his script:

Those proposals were never brought to Cabinet or if they were, they were never acted upon and three years later, we have Ministers from that same Department now making the very opposite case.

We must accept the need for fundamental change and reform in the fire service. We must accept that a structure which evolved when Ireland was a very different country, largely agricultural, with relatively small numbers living in towns and cities, can no longer provide us with the level of safety and protection we need. We must end the situation where, as one chief fire officer has put it, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, has all the power without any of the responsibility. It can effectively walk away from any disaster and lay the blame at the doors of the local authority. We now urgently need a national fire authority that would provide enhanced protection against fire, better training and equipment for all personnel and ensure a consistent level of service across the country. We also need to accept that densely populated areas can no longer rely on part-time or retained fires services to provide the level of protection required. This is not in any way to question the dedication or commitment of the part-time fire fighters who staff the retained fire service. On the contrary, Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy and the other members of the retained fire service, showed exceptional commitment by ensuring that they were available, often 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to drop everything at a phone call and head off to fight a fire. This they did, for what most of us would regard as a pittance by way of monetary return.

In a modern society, speed of reaction is crucial to a fire alert. The time it takes for a brigade to reach a fire can literally mean the difference between life and death. The extra time of ten or 15 minutes it can take for part-time fire fighters to mobilise means simply that a retained fire service cannot respond with the same speed as a full-time service. There is always a role for the retained service in support of the full-time service.

In a little more than five minutes this House will make a decision on the motion. The decision of this House as a result of the vote, is a vote on a motion that calls for action or a vote for a Government amendment that is about inaction, that is about more reports, that is about noting more progresses and more reviews and so on. The Labour Party motion which is before the House tonight calls for two things — first, the establishment of a national fire authority and, second, the [615]establishment of full-time services in large areas of population such as Bray. We are calling for this because we do not want a repeat of what has happened in Bray and what has happened many times before. We want to see the best possible fire service in this country to protect our people and to provide the highest level of safety for those who work in it. There is no excuse for postponement.

We are calling for no more tonight than what was contained in an official Government report, not once, but three times in the past two decades. Each of those reports was produced as a result of fire tragedies. We are calling for no more tonight than what the former Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government himself said he would do three years ago, namely, establish a national fire authority. The Government can shift the responsibility as often as it likes to the individual local authorities and the Minister of State can wash his hands of it as often as he likes by saying that the Government and the Department have no responsibility as this is a statutory function of the local authorities. The reality is that given the way in which local authorities are financed and the resources that are required to ensure that we have high quality fire services, local authorities will not be able to establish full-time services in the areas in which they are required. As regards the two requirements of a national fire authority and full-time services in the areas of large population concentration, this House has an opportunity tonight to make a decision to establish a national fire authority and to have full-time fire services in areas like Bray or to funk it once again, as was done after every major fire tragedy that has occurred in this country.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  In closing the debate this evening I refer to the opening remarks made last night that there was a narrative leading up to the events of 26 September this year which goes right back to the Stardust disaster of 1981. As I said last night, an unfortunate and recurrent theme of that narrative is one in which the State has failed to strategically respond to these tragic situations and has instead become crisis-driven at best and has consistently failed to act upon its own recommendations, namely the Farrell Grant Sparks report and the Stardust tribunal report.

Over the course of the debate, the House heard many accounts of how the fire service carries out its duties across the country and I thank all those who contributed to the debate. In reviewing this commentary, it is clear that despite the exceptional job being done by both the full-time and [616]retained fire services, many structural and day-to-day difficulties hinder them in carrying out their duties to the best of their ability.

I refer to the two key aspects of this debate. Should there be an independent inquiry into the deaths of sub-officer Brian Murray and firefighter Mark O’Shaughnessy? Is there a need to establish a national authority for fire and civil protection services? The answer is yes. Both those questions are inextricably linked to one another. If an independent investigation of the Bray tragedy were to be carried out in the morning, it would show there is a need for a national fire authority.

I refer to the comments of the Minister of State, Deputy Batt O’Keeffe. The model of risk assessment proposed by the Minister of State is risk assessment contained within the local authority boundary areas. A national fire authority would conduct risk assessment on a nation-wide basis and, as a result, the Dún Laoghaire fire brigade would have been in Bray because the local boundary would not have been a division.

The national fire authority would provide a uniformity of structure, a uniformity of training and a uniformity of standards and what is most important, a uniformity of service delivery across the country.

The Minister, Deputy Gormley’s response to the motion, shows that he is unsure as to how to proceed and he demonstrated his uncertainty by his contribution to the debate. The Government amendment to the Labour Party motion demonstrates no conviction, no direction and no political originality. It is simply an attempt to mirror what happened during the tenure of the former Minister, Deputy Roche’s, term in office when it is clear he changed the direction of how fire strategy was to be developed. His predecessors in both Deputy Cullen and Deputy Dempsey, had a clear idea to implement in full the key recommendations and not the cherrypicked recommendations referred to by the Minister of State, Deputy Batt O’Keeffe. The key recommendation of the establishment of a national fire authority was removed from the agenda. It was unfortunate to hear the Minister, Deputy Gormley, say that tonight.

This motion is an opportunity for the House to rise above the standard responses involved in Government and Opposition debate. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate that the tragic events of 26 September in Bray have begun to set in motion the creation of the fire service that Ireland needs. Most importantly, it is an opportunity to put in place the type of fire authority the brave personnel of our fire services deserve and our society requires.

Amendment put.

[615][616] The Dáil divided: Tá, 81; Níl, 70.

Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot. Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael.
Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel. Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry.
Information on Chris Andrews  Zoom on Chris Andrews  Andrews, Chris. Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán.
Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  Aylward, Bobby. Information on Joe Behan  Zoom on Joe Behan  Behan, Joe.
Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall. Information on Aine Brady  Zoom on Aine Brady  Brady, Áine.
Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian. Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny.
Information on Seamus Brennan  Zoom on Seamus Brennan  Brennan, Séamus. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Thomas Byrne  Zoom on Thomas Byrne  Byrne, Thomas. Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara.
Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat. Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall.
Information on Sean Connick  Zoom on Sean Connick  Connick, Seán. Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary.
Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian. Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John.
Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel.
Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy. Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy.
Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank. Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Flynn, Beverley.
Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope. Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul.
Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John. Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel.
Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary. Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary.
Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán. Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Brendan Kenneally  Zoom on Brendan Kenneally  Kenneally, Brendan.
Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Kennedy, Michael. Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony.
Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus. Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P.
Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom. Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian.
Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor. Information on Michael Lowry  Zoom on Michael Lowry  Lowry, Michael.
Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Mansergh, Martin. Information on James McDaid  Zoom on James McDaid  McDaid, James.
Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas. Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian.
Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie. Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael.
Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M.J.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  O’Brien, Darragh. Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie.
Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel. Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  O’Hanlon, Rory.
Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt. Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  O’Rourke, Mary.
Information on Christy O'Sullivan  Zoom on Christy O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Christy. Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter.
Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán. Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick.
Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon. Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor.
Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan. Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel.
Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary. Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  White, Mary Alexandra.
Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.  


Níl
Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Allen, Bernard. Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James.
Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Barrett, Seán. Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat.
Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P. Information on Ulick Burke  Zoom on Ulick Burke  Burke, Ulick.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Catherine Byrne  Zoom on Catherine Byrne  Byrne, Catherine.
Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe. Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  Clune, Deirdre.
Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul. Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel J.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon.
Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour. Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael.
Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda. Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  D’Arcy, Michael.
Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew.
Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J. Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien.
Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn. Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank.
Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin. Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles.
Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory  Gregory, Tony. Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian.
Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.
Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda. Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Pádraic.
Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane. Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe. Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz.
Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia. Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur.
Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis. Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan.
Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran.
Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus. Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim.
Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John. Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian.
Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  [619]Shatter, Alan. Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Sheahan, Tom.
Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Sheehan, P.J. Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Seán.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy.
Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.
Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo. Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.

[619]Tellers: Tá, Deputies Tom Kitt and John Curran; Níl, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Dan Neville.

[619]Amendment declared carried.

Question put: “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided by electronic means.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  As a teller in the last count and given the importance of the issue and [620]the contempt with which the Government has dealt with it, I propose that the vote be taken other than by electronic means.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The vote will proceed.

Question again put: “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”

[619]The Dáil divided: Tá, 80; Níl, 70.

Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot. Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael.
Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel. Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry.
Information on Chris Andrews  Zoom on Chris Andrews  Andrews, Chris. Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán.
Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  Aylward, Bobby. Information on Joe Behan  Zoom on Joe Behan  Behan, Joe.
Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall. Information on Aine Brady  Zoom on Aine Brady  Brady, Áine.
Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian. Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny.
Information on Seamus Brennan  Zoom on Seamus Brennan  Brennan, Séamus. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Thomas Byrne  Zoom on Thomas Byrne  Byrne, Thomas. Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara.
Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat. Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall.
Information on Sean Connick  Zoom on Sean Connick  Connick, Seán. Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary.
Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian. Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John.
Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel.
Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy. Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy.
Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael. Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán.
Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Flynn, Beverley. Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul. Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John.
Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel. Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary.
Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary. Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán.
Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie. Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire.
Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy. Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter.
Information on Brendan Kenneally  Zoom on Brendan Kenneally  Kenneally, Brendan. Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Kennedy, Michael.
Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony. Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus.
Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P. Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor.
Information on Michael Lowry  Zoom on Michael Lowry  Lowry, Michael. Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Mansergh, Martin.
Information on James McDaid  Zoom on James McDaid  McDaid, James. Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie.
Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael. Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John.
Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael. Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael.
Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M. J. Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon.
Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán. Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  O’Brien, Darragh.
Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie. Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel.
Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  O’Hanlon, Rory. Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt.
Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  O’Rourke, Mary. Information on Christy O'Sullivan  Zoom on Christy O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Christy.
Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter. Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán.
Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick. Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon.
Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor. Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel. Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary.
Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  White, Mary Alexandra. Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.



[619]Níl
Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Allen, Bernard. Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James.
Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Barrett, Seán. Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat.
Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P. Information on Ulick Burke  Zoom on Ulick Burke  Burke, Ulick.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  [621]Burton, Joan. Information on Catherine Byrne  Zoom on Catherine Byrne  Byrne, Catherine.
Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe. Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  Clune, Deirdre.
Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul. Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel J.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon.
Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour. Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael.
Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda. Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  D’Arcy, Michael.
Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew.
Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J. Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien.
Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn. Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank.
Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin. Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles.
Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory  Gregory, Tony. Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian.
Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom. Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D.
Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan. Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda.
Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán. Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen.
Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Pádraic. Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe. Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz.
Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia. Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur.
Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis. Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan.
Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran.
Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus. Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim.
Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John. Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian.
Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan. Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Sheahan, Tom.
Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Sheehan, P. J. Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Seán.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy.
Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.
Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo. Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.

[621]Tellers: Tá, Deputies Tom Kitt and John Curran; Níl, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Dan Neville.

[621]Question declared carried.


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