Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has said that when we think about the future growth and development of Dublin city, we must be mindful that the emergency services that serve the people are struggling to cope as it is and will be put under even more severe pressure by population growth.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Teachta Crowe said:

“We all have a vision of the Dublin we would like to see. It needs to be a safe place. I have never been frightened to go into any area of the city, but I know other people who have been frightened to do so. I know people who are terrified in their own homes every night of the week.

“It also needs to be a place in which ordinary people can afford to live. If we are talking about the future of Dublin, it has to be a place for everyone, not just an elite few who have a lot of money. It has to be an inclusive place, regardless of colour, creed or sexual preference. It should not be a city where there is a divide between the haves and the have-nots.

“I spoke earlier in the week about how Dublin has grown. It is a city of well over 1 million people. Buildings are getting higher and the population density is increasing. Successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Governments have prioritised economic growth in the city and its surrounding areas. That has driven population growth and migration to the area. However, those Governments have also presided over a system that has resulted in it not being affordable for ordinary people to live in Dublin, and that needs to be addressed.

“Emergency services have not experienced the same level of investment or growth. In many cases, it has been the opposite. The current state of emergency services in the capital is not adequate for the population. The fire brigade is crying out for support in the middle of a staffing crisis. Ambulances with seriously ill patients in the back of them are waiting outside hospitals. Many community gardaí are treated like super subs. They are used for everything, such as duties outside embassies or at concerts. They plug the gaps all the time, but that increasingly takes them away from the communities with which they should be working in order to build relationships. Speaking about the way in which the Defence Forces have been decimated would take more time than I have here today.

“Staff shortages such as those being experienced by the fire service and other emergency front-line services are further proof that the Government is not serious about the safety of Dubliners. We need a fire service that has the equipment, staff, capacity and capability to respond to fires and all other potential incidents. We do not have that at the moment.

“It is taking more than an hour, on average, for ambulance crews to discharge patients into hospitals and resume their duties. The HSE target is 13 minutes. I know of cases where ambulances have been outside hospitals all day. Two weeks ago, 11 ambulances were stuck outside Tallaght hospital.

“If we are serious about safety in Dublin, we must recognise that the emergency services cannot cope with significant population increases without proper planning, supports and financial investment. There are small but effective actions we can take now while we recruit more emergency personnel and put policies in place to allow us to retain experienced members and crews. That must include improved pay and conditions.

“In policing, we need more overt patrols, the roll-out of body cameras to all gardaí, and a dedicated transport unit to safeguard commuters. Hospitals must be empowered to engage in proactive solutions such as the pathfinder service. The latter allows for people to be treated in their homes, thereby freeing up space in emergency departments. We must establish an Oireachtas committee to conduct a short and sharp review of how the national fire service is delivered across the State.

“It the Government wants Dublin to be a safe place in which to work and raise a family in the future, it has to be affordable. Proactive measures must be put in place, and not just when the system breaks down under greater population pressure. There are solutions and approaches we can take that will improve people’s lives overnight but we need to get the basics right.”