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'We always turn up and we always will': Ireland's frontline workers are getting their own day of recognition

National Services Day will take place annually on the first Saturday in September.

Laura Jackson from Royal National Lifeboat Institution with Darcy aged 2 from the ambulance service (L) and Seodin aged 2 from Dublin fire brigade (R)
Laura Jackson from Royal National Lifeboat Institution with Darcy aged 2 from the ambulance service (L) and Seodin aged 2 from Dublin fire brigade (R)
Image: Leah Farrell via RollingNews

THE FIRST NATIONAL day to recognise the contribution of Ireland’s frontline workers in the emergency and security services is happening today. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that the first Saturday in September every year will be National Services Day so that important services get the public recognition “they so rightly deserve”.  

Thousands of emergency service workers and their vehicles are expected to take part in a parade from Parnell Square to Dublin Castle at noon today as part of the celebrations.

Speaking at the launch on Wednesday, Health Minister Simon Harris said that members of frontline services had been arranging their own parade and events for the last few years but came to the government this year to ask it to recognise and commemorate the work they do. 

He said:  “It’s a request that the government is happy to agree to.”

Harris acknowledged that the country has an issue with the retention of healthcare professionals when asked by reporters how he was going to accommodate nurses who are currently looking for a pay rise.

“When it comes to the retention of healthcare professionals I believe that we have a very challenging situation in this country.

“We ask the Public Sector Pay Commision how best to address those challenge and I understand that it’s finalising its report,” he said.

7732 National Services Day_90552760 Source: Leah Farrell

At the launch in Dublin Castle, a spokesperson for the Defence Forces told TheJournal.ie that most of the callouts it gets are during the night so interactions with the public don’t happen too often so getting to take part the parade today is very special.

He said that during Storm Emma there were hundreds of troops on duty transporting essential workers to work, shovelling snow off the footpaths and helping out farmers with fodder supplies.

“The people who you’re helping, their gratitude is something else.

“The number of young people who come up to me and thank me for my service to the country, it’s a good sign for the future that maybe people do appreciate the defence forces a bit for what they do,” he said. 

The Defence Forces are usually called in when “somebody needs that extra help to complete their task” he said, the most recent example of this was during the papal visit when the Defence Forces backed up the gardaí. 

original (1) Image shared by members of the defence forces of a needle found in their camp.

However, it emerged that some members of the Defence Forces had to bed down in a former homeless camp while tasked with securing the perimeter of the Phoenix Park in support of An Garda Síochána.

The Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Association has said that the images of hypodermic needles were appalling, and “gave rise to serious health and safety concerns within the association”.

Commenting on that situation last weekend the member of the Defence Forces said that every situation that soldiers find themselves in is different but “at the end of the day we’re soldiers”.

“We have guys out in Syria and all over the world, in more dangerous conditions or areas so we just get on with it.

“You’ll have some people who maybe won’t be happy with conditions whatever job they’re in.

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“We always turn up. We always do what we’re told and we always will,” he said. 

7598 National Services Day_90552756 Laura Jackson from the RNLI Source: Leah Farrell

Laura Jackson who is a member of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) said that like the Defence Forces there is a lot of cross communication and work between the emergency services. 

“It’s very much hand in hand, one doesn’t go without the other for sure, especially our work with the coast guard,” said Jackson who works on the lifeboat crew in Dun Laoghaire.

We probably would be one of the busiest stations in Ireland just because we’d cover Dublin City centre.

Jackson has been involved with the annual parade for the last three years and said it was brilliant for everyone involved that it’s now become a national day. 

“We work hard and we train hard, the support we get from the public is fantastic.

“To be involved in a parade like this is absolutely fantastic especially to stand alongside such other amazing emergency services.

It makes us feel really privileged to be an emergency service and to support our local communities. 

Check out the website to find out more of whats on today to celebrate the work of the emergency services.

About the author:

Adam Daly

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