Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice Niall Collins has again called on the Government to protect emergency workers with specific legislation making it an offence to attack emergency personnel on duty. Deputy Collins said it is very disturbing to hear stories of ambulance and fire personnel coming under attack over the Halloween weekend.
Deputy Collins said: “It has been clear to me for quite some time that we do not have strong enough legislation in place to protect gardaí, fire officers, paramedics and other emergency personnel. There have been many serious and unacceptable incidents in recent years where emergency workers have come under attack while on duty. I believe this is such a serious offence it should be stipulated in law and carry a severe penalty.
“Fianna Fáil has proposed a minimum 5 year jail term for anyone convicted of assaulting or threatening the life of an on duty garda, nurse, ambulance worker or fire officer.
“I don’t share the view of the Government – that our emergency personnel don’t need or deserve special recognition. Such is the importance of their work and the risks they take on a daily to protect us I believe we should match their commitment with our protection and respect in law. I want the message to go out loud and clear that it is not ok to attack and ambulance, or paramedics on duty. I want people to understand that the law will take a very strong line with anyone convicted of attacking gardaí and fire personnel.
“My colleague Dara Calleary produced legislation three years ago in 2012, the Assault on Emergency Workers Bill, and there is no sensible reason why this has been allowed to languish on the Dáil Order Paper. The Government has an opportunity to send a clear message that the Oireachtas, made up of the people’s representatives, stands with all our emergency workers and is prepared to provide special recognition and protection for them in the line of duty. Fine Gael and Labour are the only reasons this hasn’t happened after four and half years in office and their silence and inaction is shameful.”