Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Personnel from Castlerea Fire Station, which has remained closed for nearly three years, will attend a meeting with senior council staff on Monday next to discuss a report into the station’s future.

The Herald understands that the risk management review on the future of Castlerea fire service is being finalised, and fire fighters are being invited to hear the findings. The review will include an update on the area risk categorisation of the fireground covering Castlerea.

Sinn Féin spokesperson Claire Kerrane said she was very concerned about the station, claiming that key stakeholders in the town were not consulted by the council.

“I contacted the Prison Officers Association (POA) last week, just to see if it was aware of the continued closure of the fire station, which is coming up on three years now. Surprisingly enough it knew nothing about the lack of a fire service in Castlerea,” she said. “It’s shocking. There are over 300 inmates in the prison and over 150 members of staff. Castlerea Fire Station is 900 metres from the prison. Ballaghaderreen Fire Service, which the prison is relying on now, is between 26-30 km away. It is half an hour of a trip and that is hugely concerning for the prison given their population.”

She was told by the prison officers’ group that earlier this year a fire broke out on a new wing at Portlaoise Prison.

“It can happen, even in a brand new building, something can go wrong. That’s the danger here.” She said there were fears the station was going to be closed permanently and alleged that key stakeholders in the town had not been consulted with.

“It really isn’t good enough,” she said and she called for the council to meet the Prison Officers Association, SIPTU, and representatives of key stakeholders ahead of next Monday’s meeting.

“They need to hear the content of the report and need to sit down and go through it before the fire crew are informed. Because clearly the view of these key stakeholders haven’t been taken into account.”

She believes the people of the town have been ignored over this issue.

“People pay their property tax, they pay their taxes and at the very least they are entitled to basic services and that includes a fire station. If there was a fire tomorrow morning, they would be depending on Ballaghaderreen and that is the bottom line. And it’s not good enough. The people of Castlerea deserve far better.”

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