The Minister of State for Primary Care Róisín Shorthall has failed to provide any answers on the ongoing impasse over permanent accommodation for Edenderry Ambulance Service. She was questioned by Offaly Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen, who raised a special Dáil debate on the matter this week (Thursday, 23 February)

Deputy Cowen said: “The temporary accommodation for the ambulance services in Edenderry is totally unacceptable and simply does not meet the standards required. It is crucial that permanent facilities are found immediately.

“Edenderry Ambulance service has been seeking a permanent ambulance bay for a long number of years. After numerous representations the bay was received two years ago, by providing accommodation in what used to be the Matron’s living quarters in Ofalia House. This consists of 1 room, a storage unit and one toilet to be used by male and female ambulance staff. These facilities are totally inadequate. Where an ambulance needs to be cleaned after a call, it must be transported to Tullamore Hospital, leaving North Offaly without any ambulance service.

“While these delays continue, lives are being put at risk. This is a vital service, with 5 full-time staff and 5 other staff available to cover at any time. Up to November last year, they had carried out 650 call outs covering North Offaly, Kildare and Meath. It particularly important to have a quality service in this area given that its rural nature.

“The Minister for Health, the HSE and the County Council have continued to pass the buck on who is responsible for this mess. It’s time for Minister James Reilly and his Junior Minister Roísín Shortall to take proper action to find a full time facility for Edenderry Ambulance. This can be done by either extending the area within Ofalia House for the ambulance service or leasing a suitable vacant unit around Edenderry town.

“Minister Shorthall’s answers to my questions in the Dáil were totally inadequate. She said that the National Ambulance Service (NAS) are engaging with the local authority in an effort to resolve the issue. I informed the Minister that this has already happened, and this avenue has been completely exhausted. It’s time for the Government to take an interest in this, in the interests of public safety in this region.”