Dublin Fire Brigade has been serving the capital for over 150 years and provide combined fire, rescue and emergency ambulance services. This means that every firefighter in the DFB is also a trained paramedic and once a fire crew is on the scene, there is no need to wait for a separate ambulance service before medical care can be provided. It’s the very fact that DFB are able to provide this overall service that makes them so effective at what they do.
It was the threat of the loss of the ambulance service to the DFB that brought around 500 people – DFB staff, officers and supporters – to the streets yesterday. They opposed the threat of the HSE taking over the DFB ambulance service, and this in spite of the fact that the DFB consistently performs well even though under-funded. The HSE ambulance service is one that has been hit with very severe cuts even as it is, already stretched thin in areas like Kildare and Cork, and the DFB worry that this would diminish the quality of service they can provide to the county.
There was a great sense of solidarity marching and standing together even though it was raining heavily. It was fantastic to see so many trade unions come out in support of the firefighters, with strong contingents attending from both SIPTU and IMPACT. But the real moment of triumph was when Patricia King of SIPTU took to the stand to tell the assembled crowd that Dublin City Council had announced it would be deferring the proposed review of ambulance services until after a HSE National capacity review.
There is a video from the USI live Youtube channel that sums it all up quite nicely. Unite Youth (DAG) makes a very brief appearance for about a second at 1:49, just after Bríd Smith of PBPA. In case you didn’t get a chance to catch our super specialized placards, we did take a photo:
Towards the end of the firefighter demo, the crowd grew to encompass a second protest related to another cut. The ‘Stop the Amalgamation of Ballyfermot Schools’ campaign had organised a protest to support an emergency motion that was being proposed in the City Hall on their behalf. The campaign came together in January to stop the planned halving of the number of schools in Ballyfermot, from 4 schools to 2. This reduction would mean serious over-crowding and a loss of facilities, resources and support for students and teachers. Trade Union TV spoke to some of the students and concerned parents and you can follow the campaign on Facebook.
Although this was not an event that we were prepared for, after a quick run down of the issue and with ready-made placards being handed out, we hung about to show our support, in the name of solidarity.
For Unite Youth Dublin’s first public appearance, I think we did pretty well.