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Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD raises concern on fall in Civil Defence numbers

8 March, 2018 - by Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has expressed his concern after it was revealed that Civil Defence Numbers are down by 1,000 since 2013.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire said;

"People in the Civil Defence deserve enormous praise and there's great credit to them for the phenomenal job they've done during Storm Emma last week.

"These are 3,469 ordinary men and women who volunteer to assist their communities. They give of their own time to ensure that the vulnerable and isolated can be looked after.

"In the last week Civil Defence workers have been involved in assisting vehicles which were stuck, including ambulances, in getting essential frontline staff to their workplaces, and in supporting emergency services, and indeed delivering meals on wheels.

"The response to such a storm as this would be many times more difficult without their contribution.

"However, I am quite concerned at the fall off in numbers in the Civil Defence according to PQs I have received.

"There has been a considerable fall, of almost 1,000 since 2013, down to 3,469. In 1998 there were some 10,000 so it has fallen a long way since then.

"We need to find out why people are leaving, because as severe weather alerts are going to become more frequent and that is likely to mean there is going to be a growing demand for more people to serve

"As a voluntary-led organisation it is very cost effective, but the government needs to recognise that there is a problem here.

"I am calling on the Minister to convene a meeting, when all has settled down after the storm, with representatives of the Civil Defence Units from across the Country, to get feedback on the response to Storm Emma, but also, to get a sense of why people are leaving.

"Are people being properly supported, do units have enough autonomy and responsibility, are there enough resources - these are they questions we need answers to, and the Minister needs to hear from Civil Defence volunteers so that we can begin to grow this key organisation once again."

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