Funding to the value of €74,000 is being provided for the provision of a new fire station in Carraroe in South Connemara.
The National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management, an agency of the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, is providing the funding for the fit-out and utilities for a new fire station in South Connemara.
The Directorate has written to Galway County Council informing it of the steps that must be taken before the end of this year to draw down the funding.
This funding is hugely welcome and will help provide a new fire station to serve the South Connemara region.
I’ve pursued this vital issue for several years at County Council level and in the Dáil and have highlighted the inadequacy and undue risks associated with the existing number of fire stations in Galway West. The East of the County, for example, has seven fire stations while the West of the County has, up to now, been served only by the stations in the City and Clifden.
Furthermore, travel times of up to 90 minutes from the City to some parts of South Connemara have rendered the existing service as inadequate and insufficient.
I’ve continuously raised this issue with the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD. I’m delighted that after two decades of campaigning and fruitless interaction with previous governments, the current minister, Minister Hogan, has listened and has prioritised funding for this vital service, even at a time of financial constraint for the country.
I would like to also pay tribute to the work of Údarás na Gaeltachta and Galway County Council who have sought a suitable site in the Carraroe area for the fire station and also the local action group, Coiste Chearta Chonamara and the communities for their work and perseverance.
At €74,000 the level of funding being provided requires public procurement tendering which I hope can be commenced without delay so that work can begin on the new fire station as soon as possible.
The next step involves the sanctioning by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government for retained fire service personnel.
Ongoing discussions are taking place between the County Manager, Martina Maloney, the Acting County Council Director of Services including Housing and Emergency Services, Michael Raftery and representatives of the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management.
The funding and the ongoing discussions are indicative of the view the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management that there is justification for fire service personnel.
The County Council’s budget for 2015 will also need to include provision for the increased service.