‘Deliberate’: James Collins has condemned the incident
UP to 40 young thugs are alleged to have hurled bricks and stones at firefighters as they attempted to put out a blaze in Limerick city.
The incident, described as “appalling and deliberate”, allegedly saw the emergency service staff dispatched to Reidy Court in Garryowen, where a series of bins had been set up on fire, local councillor James Collins has said.
But when they arrived at the scene, it's been claimed a gang of youths blocked their path and began attacking their emergency vehicle.
Gardai were also in attendance at the incident, which prompted Fianna Fail general election candidate Cllr Collins to call for five-year jail sentences for those who attack frontline emergency responders like ambulance crew, fire and rescue staff or gardai.
He believes the youngsters deliberately set the bins on fire and raised the alarm to “entice” the firefighters in the estate.
“Rubbish from elderly residents’ bins had been set alight on the road. When they arrived, they [fire staff] were pelted with stones and missiles and were forced to back up the fire tender and retreat,” Cllr Collins said.
He added: “This is just the latest attack on our frontline defenders, who are increasingly faced with a hostile reception when they go to perform a public service.”
“Nobody should be allowed to get away with treating gardai, ambulance crew or fire brigade staff in this way. These are the very people we as k to run towards emergencies when we are seeking to escape them. They have to be protected with stiff penalties for anyone who attacks them,” he added.
Cllr Collins claims he has been told that fire service staff no longer fill in ‘dangerous occurrences logbooks’ as they feel nothing is ever done about it.
In terms of this incident, a spokesperson for Limerick Council said that at no point did fire service staff report they had "come under attack".
A spokesperson for Limerick City Fire and Rescue Service confirmed they attended a bin fire at Reidy Court on Saturday, June 1 last.
They left at 00:13, returning around 20 minutes later.
A spokesperson for the council added: "Fire crews remained at the scene until gardaí arrived as they witnessed a group of youngsters misbehaving."
"Fire crews provide a vital service to the people of Limerick and Limerick City and County Council has always and will always condemn any attacks on any of its emergency crews."
Henry Street gardai are investigating the incident, and can be contacted at 061-212400.