Councillors lambast fire service plans

Photo by Shelley Corcoran
Plans to set up a newly reshaped Longford-Westmeath fire authority would represent a backward step.

Plans to set up a newly reshaped Longford-Westmeath fire authority would represent a backward step.

That’s the view of Cllr Michael Connellan, who said he was starting to lose faith with government leaders following recent revelations a major overhaul of fire services was on the way.

Under those plans set out in the Government’s document ‘Keeping Communities Safe’, and which was previously reported by the Leader, Environment Minister Phil Hogan plans to reduce the number of fire authorities nationwide from 37 to 21.

But it was proposals to ring-fence both counties under a ‘shared services’ framework which last week led to worrying calls from Cllr Connellan and others.

“It seems to be that all of this is down to monetary value,” stormed Cllr Connellan at last week’s meeting of Longford Town Council. “I am sick and tired of us (Longford) losing out and we just seem to be the butt of everyone’s joke.”

Listening on, County Manager Tim Caffrey said the suggestions outlined by Environment Minister Phil Hogan were still very much in the early stages and would have to come before Longford County Council prior to its overall approval.

“This is national government policy. Nobodies terms and conditions will be affected without the agreement of the unions,” he said.