Emergency Services Ireland - Spring 2024

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A new emergency warning satellite service, due to be launched by the EU’s global satellite navigation system (Galileo) in 2025, aims to alert people in the event of hazardous incidents. The fourth and final demonstration of the service was hosted by the European STELLAR project in the Belgian city of Arlon in January.



With aid workers in Gaza faced with unprecedented conditions since the war broke out last October, an emergency co-ordinator and a rapid deployment officer tell ‘Emergency Services Ireland’ about an increasingly dire situation, mostly for the war-wounded women and children.

A national policy and inspection team has been set up by the Health and Safety Authority to investigate the impact that the increased number of assaults against nurses and midwives is having within the healthcare setting.


Ireland’s first ever careers fair for emergency services and military personnel, looking for advice and guidance on opportunities following retirement from frontline service, will take place on Thursday 18 April.


(Cover image © MSF)


Mullingar Fire Station will host this year’s National Rescue Challenge on Saturday 11 May. The annual event once again provides statutory and voluntary emergency services with an opportunity to demonstrate their skillsets in cardiac arrest management and pre-hospital trauma care.



Northern Ireland’s emergency services, community groups and voluntary agencies will join forces to run multiple scenarios and training exercises for healthcare students during ‘Resilience Day’ on Saturday 23 March at the Ulster University campus in Derry.



Two new strategies for the Irish Prison Service aim to mark a new chapter in the approach to imprisonment and substance abuse within Ireland’s prison system and to identify the strategic priorities that will shape its operations over the next five years.


Five finalists have been announced for this year's Capt. Dara Fitzpatrick Award. The award ceremony, which will take place on Wednesday 1 May, will be hosted by the School of Medicine at the University of Limerick.



The Irish Coast Guard provides the first glimpse of its next generation aircraft, to be provided under the new ten-year service contract, with the transition to the service scheduled later in the year.



A former Assistant Garda Commissioner has said that it should not take a crisis, such as the riots in Dublin city centre late last year, for the force to be fully resourced to ensure that Gardaí get what they need. So, what policing proposals are now in the pipeline?


The riots in Dublin on 23 November 2023 shocked the nation for their violence and intensity as well as the speed with which they spread across the city, with retailers and employees trapped within their premises for fear of attack by those intent on robbing and causing damage.


Ireland needs a more proactive approach to human trafficking and a better understanding of the nuances involved, according to international experts in anti-human trafficking, who criticised the Government’s latest action plan to combat the problem for what they cite as lacking protection policies.


A new report, issued by the Policy Exchange think tank has referred to Ireland as an “unreliable security partner” in relation to national defence and cybersecurity.


A €22.5bn health budget aims to facilitate the continued delivery and expansion of quality, affordable healthcare services, with the significant allocation including a Health Resilience Fund to support service delivery in response to high inflation and increased patient demand.

A project to establish a new criminal justice research partnership, which aims to embed a culture of interdisciplinary open research in criminal justice in Ireland, is being funded by the National Open Research Forum (NORF).


Just how well can the EU be better prepared for the next health pandemic is a question that the European Parliament has sought to answer since 2022, whilst reviewing lessons learned in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, according to Irish MEP Deirdre Clune and Spanish MEP Dolors Montserrat.


A hard-hitting road safety initiative is being rolled out to transition year students across the country. The ‘Just 1 Life’ programme aims to increase road safety awareness among young people to clamp down on the rising road traffic deaths.

EMERGENCY SERVICES IRELAND 2 CONTENTS PUBLISHER Patrick Aylward EDITOR Grace Heneghan GRAPHIC DESIGN Niall McHugh ADMINISTRATION Anne-Marie Moran CIRCULATION Audrey Fitzgerald Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information included in correct, the publisher cannot accept responsibility for errors, omissions or discrepancies. The views expressed are no necessarily those of the publisher. All Rights Reserved Emergency Services Ireland © 2024 Emergency Services Ireland, 14 Upper Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin 2 T: 01-6785165 E: info@emergency-services.ie W: www.emergency-services.ie SPRING 2024 www.emergency-services.ie @EmergencyIrlMag www.facebook.com/emergencyservicesireland RETAIL CRIME HEALTH BUDGET 2024 57 76 CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESEARCH INTERNATIONAL NEWS UK NEWS 79 87 83 HUMAN TRAFFICKING SECURITY & DEFENCE
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Submissions are still open for the Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards, which will be presented on Tuesday 14 May, and all nominations must be submitted before Friday 23 March.

Since 2018 the Irish Red Cross (IRC) has celebrated people who are dedicated to helping those in need, through its annual presentation of the Humanitarian Awards.

The IRC hosts the event each year to publicly recognise inspiring

For further information visit https://irchumanitarianawards.ie/

examples of compassion demonstrated by its nominees and award winners, across the following five award categories:

• Humanitarian of the Year

• Young Humanitarian of the Year

• Humanitarian Organisation of the Year

• Humanitarian Journalist of the Year

• Corporate Impact Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award: This individual will have demonstrated exceptional humanitarian achievement throughout their career and/ or personal life. The recipient is chosen internally each year from a list of candidates selected by the IRC Humanitarian Award Committee and chosen through the IRC Board of Directors.


Registration is now open for this year’s Cyber Expo & Conference, which returns to Leopardstown Pavilion at Leopardstown Racecourse in Dublin on Thursday 18 April.

‘Cyber Con Ireland’ will feature case studies of how technology has been applied in different industries, while several security experts will be on hand to provide delegates with advice, guidance and demonstrations of the solutions.

Cyber Expo, organised by data security distributor Renaissance, will once again be open to IT trade and end users in the Irish market, with a focus this year on corporate users to demonstrate how they can apply data security and compliance solutions within their organisations

to develop and deliver on their GDPR and other regulatory requirements.

The event will also offer case studies in addition to live expert panel discussions across various dedicated business streams.

For the list of exhibitors, speakers and topics of discussion visit
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Roscommon’s Fergal Guihen – a general nurse in Sligo General Hospital’s Emergency Department – sets off in March on a 23,000km ‘Rossie to Aussie’ charity cycle in aid of Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation and aims to reach Australia in February 2025.

Fergal (25) from Arigna, Co. Roscommon, who previously worked at St James’ Hospital and Trinity College Dublin and is now based at Sligo General Hospital ED, aims to average 100km a day taking in 25 countries and three continents along the way. He hopes to finish the trip at the iconic Sydney Opera House within 11 months.

“This challenge is going to be the hardest thing I have ever done. The longest cycling trip I’ve done was about two weeks long, so this is certainly going to be very different but I’m very much looking forward to it. I’ll be doing most of the trip by myself,

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but friends will join me across Europe.”

Fergal said he is funding the trip himself and will live a very minimalistic life. “I’ll be bringing my tent and hot stove with me! I had a thought that I may as well incorporate a fundraising element into it, so I’ve chosen a charity local to me – the Mayo Roscommon

Hospice Foundation – as I want to give back to my local community. The Foundation provides vital palliative care services to the communities of Mayo and Roscommon and my great granny benefitted from those services in Roscommon.”

Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation has been providing palliative care services to people with life limiting illnesses and their families in both counties since 1993. Since then the palliative care teams have assisted in the care of over 20,000 patients and their families.

In 2019 the Mayo Hospice in Castlebar was completed at a cost of €9m while the Roscommon Hospice was finished below the €6.3m budget. Both hospices were developed and paid for by a combined fundraised income of €15.5m and are a result of the support received from communities in Mayo and Roscommon. For further information visit www.hospice.ie


There’s been a huge level of interest in becoming a GP, according to figures released by the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), which confirm that over 1,300 medical graduates have applied for GP training this year.

Minister Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, said: “The figures released by the ICGP show that general practice is building on its strong reputation as a worthwhile career choice for medical graduates. The government is committed to a reform agenda to achieve universal healthcare, where people can access the right care in the right place at the right time and general practice is at the core of that reform vision.

“The expansion in the number of training places for GPs to 350 in 2024 confirms the commitment to deliver this reform by increasing the number of GPs delivering essential services to patients. The increase

in training to 350 places in 2024 is a 35% increase on the annual intake over 2022.” The Minister said he also supports the expansion of the ICGP’s non-EU doctors programme which will bring a further 250 this year in an accelerated adaptation programme.

The number of applicants for places on the GP training scheme has trebled since 2019. The number of GPs in training also increased from 120 in 2009, 258 in 2022 and 285 in 2023. The final phase of increasing

the number of training places to 350 annually, originally scheduled for 2025, will now happen this year.

ICGP Chief Executive Officer, Fintan Foy, said: “It is very encouraging that so many doctors choose General Practice as their career, which offers a good worklife balance with strong career prospects and great opportunities to specialise. This also reflects the increased government funding in primary care, including Chronic Disease Management and the expansion in free GP care.”

The ICGP is working with stakeholders to establish new training schemes and/or additional day release within GP training schemes, and is liaising with the HSE NDTP, using a data-driven approach to target areas of high population growth and areas of unmet need.


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The Detailed Implementation Plan to transform Ireland’s Defence Forces, which has set out programme of work by 2028, aims to build on the Commission Report in February 2022, the High-Level Action Plan in July 2022 and Early Action Update in March 2023.

This plan sets out a programme of work to move to ‘Level of Ambition 2’ (LOA 2) by 2028 and the significant and fundamental change for the Defence Forces across the Commission’s 130 recommendations, which span the following:

• Strategic HR and Cultural Change.

• New Command and Control and Joint Structures to be established.

• Services to be reformed and restructured.

• Reserve Defence Force to be revitalised; and

• Joint Capability Development to be implemented.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Defence, Micheál Martin, said: “A great deal of work, which still needs to be done, will require a concerted effort by all involved and a priority is cultural change. The end goal is to ensure that the Defence Forces is well-resourced, reflective of

“The end goal is to ensure the Defence Forces is wellresourced, reflective of contemporary Irish society…and a rewarding and attractive career path for new recruits”

– Micheál Martin TD, Tánaiste and Minister for Defence

contemporary Irish society, not to mention a rewarding and attractive career path for new recruits.”

The Strategic Framework, published in September 2023, brings together a series of actions to be taken to support the transformation of the Defence Forces. The Implementation Plan forms a core element of the framework and achieving this end goal.


An Garda Síochána and the Policing Authority have joined forces for the first time ever on a research project to focus on the wellbeing of Garda personnel.

The collaboration, in addition to enhancing wellbeing within An Garda Síochána, also aims to contribute to the development of evidence-based policy decisions for the Irish police service and will form the basis for future research collaborations to drive improvements in policing services to the public.

Deputy Garda Commissioner, Shawna Coxon stated: “For this important collaborative project with the Policing Authority, we decided to focus on Garda wellbeing. This initiative is seeking evidence-based wellbeing interventions that will contribute to enhancing organisational supports that underpin positive mental health. It underscores our commitment to addressing the unique challenges our personnel face in their service to the Irish public.”

Helen Hall, Chief Executive of the Policing Authority, added: “Our engagement with Garda personnel nationwide has given us the opportunity to listen to their concerns and begin to understand the significant challenges they face in doing their work on a daily basis. We hope that this research can contribute to the effectiveness of the supports available to Garda personnel and bringing about real change.”

The research aims to draw insights from policing and relevant first responder interventions in other jurisdictions, leveraging findings from An Garda Síochána’s Health Needs Assessment and the first and second An Garda Síochána Cultural Audits.

For details visit www.policingauthority.ie/en



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Ireland’s commitment to progressing the development of an international treaty aimed at strengthening pandemic prevention, preparedness and response in the wake of COVID-19 was reaffirmed by the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly during a meeting with the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The proposed agreement between WHO member states was discussed at a meeting last December in Dublin between Ireland’s health ministers and the WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Executive Director for Emergencies, Dr Mike Ryan, and WHO Technical Officer, Dr Cindi Lewis.

The WHO team had talks on the upcoming pandemic convention and reform of International Health Regulations, Ireland’s experience with Universal Health Coverage, health workforce strengthening and sustainable financing of the work of

the WHO into the future.

Minister Donnelly was joined at the meeting by Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler, as well as Chief Medical Officer, Breda Smyth and Chief Nursing Officer, Rachel Kenna.

Minister Donnelly said: “Ireland is a strong supporter of the WHO leadership in the global health architecture. During the pandemic the WHO played a key role in supporting countries to understand, withstand and eventually overcome the impact of COVID-19 on our healthcare systems, which is why securing an international treaty to manage future pandemics is essential.

“Funding in the 2024 Health Budget for Ireland’s assessed contributions to the WHO has been increased from €1.5m in 2023 to the target of €3.7m for 2024, ahead of the 2029 deadline.”

Rachel Kenna, Ireland’s Chief Nursing Officer, said that her

Ioffice has been working in close contact with WHO, investigating the possibility of bilateral labour agreements with other countries in relation to augmenting the nursing workforce in Ireland with qualified nurses from abroad.

A scoping exercise has been conducted to inform our position, in line with the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, and cognisant of Ireland’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 3 (good health and well-being).”

WHO Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Dr Mike Ryan, WHO Executive Director for Emergencies, during the press conference at Government Buildings in Dublin on 18 December 2023.


reland’s alliance of heart and stroke patients and carers – Heart & Stroke Voice Ireland (HSVI) – has welcomed the HSE’s Model of Care for Integrated Cardiac Rehabilitation.

The new initiative presents Ireland’s first standardised model of care for cardiac rehabilitation services across the country. Equality of access, greater flexibility of choice, and community integrated rehabilitation services are all key priorities of this new model, which in line with the best international practice, proposes a new patientcentred model of care.

The alliance was established to give a unified voice to heart patients, stroke survivors and their careers, and to advocate for a patient-centred model of care, and more equitable access to rehabilitation services, which are core elements of this new strategy, according to David Kelly, Chair of HSVI.

“HSVI recognises the importance of access to high quality cardiac rehabilitation services – when successfully implemented, they are proven to increase longevity, reduce anxiety and depression post event, and overall enhance recovery after a cardiac event or diagnosis of heart disease.”

Kelly added that this new HSE model will introduce a standardised model of care that ensures all cardiovascular patients across the country are afforded equal access to the highest international standards of cardiac rehabilitation, in a way that best suits their needs.

In line with Sláintecare, the model recommends the integration of cardiac rehabilitation services across hospital and community settings to provide person-centred care by a multidisciplinary team of nursing, health and social care professionals, medical and administration staff.

HSVI has also highlighted the need for swifter rollout of the Sláintecare policy and proper resourcing in communities across the country and stressed that these factors are crucial for its implementation to be successful.


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The project to purchase the biggest ship in the history of the Irish Naval Service, which has been in planning in the Department of Defence for many years, has stepped up a gear, in light of recommendations issued by the Commission on the Defence Forces.

The ship is anticipated to have a helicopter landing area on board as well as other possible facilities such as a roll-on-roll-off facility for the likes of Defence Forces armoured personnel carriers and other vehicles.

The ship would be capable of responding to major disasters and humanitarian crises – similar vessels have also been involved in the rescue of civilians from warzones. It is also anticipated that there will be a large medical facility onboard and specialist command and control systems for large-scale incidents.

With the project costing an estimated €200m, the exact cost will not be decided on until the completion of the tender process. The ship is set to replace the LÉ Eithne, the former flagship of the Irish Naval Service, according to Minister for Defence and Foreign Affairs, Tánaiste Micheál Martin.

Funding for the project, he said, would be drawn from major capital projects budget. “It is the Government’s intention that this new vessel will provide a flexible and adaptive capability for a wide range of maritime tasks,” he said. Sources, with a knowledge of

the planning process, said that officials had spoken to several shipbuilding firms across Europe and wider afield either formally or informally.

It is understood that several of those firms are likely to make their interest in construction known, with a potential date of completion planned for 2025. (Source: TheJournal.ie)


Funding of €1.5m will be made available to harmonise fire safety statistics within the European Union, and the project aims to build on the success of the EU FireStat Pilot Project to address critical data gaps in fire safety.

Seán Kelly, MEP for Ireland South, confirmed the inclusion of his preparatory action on harmonisation of fire statistics in the EU budget, having secured the €1.5m funding. “Reliable data is essential for effective policymaking. The EU FireStat Pilot Project laid a solid foundation, and this Preparatory Action will further our commitment to harmonising fire statistics across the EU,” he noted.

The comprehensive package, which includes 46 pilot projects/preparatory actions, was approved with a total commitment of €107.4m. “The EU currently lacks data on fire safety and casualties, with fatalities constituting about 2% of accidental deaths in the EU. The absence of a standardised EU data collection methodology has hindered effective policymaking,” Kelly added.

Krzysztof Biskup, Chair of the European Fire Safety Alliance, said that the EU FireStat Pilot Project has set the stage for a harmonized approach to fire statistics, and described this Preparatory Action as “a crucial

step in advancing this harmonization and ensuring the safety of EU citizens”.

The Preparatory Action will also support initiatives such as the Fire Information Exchange Platform (FIEP) and the EU Civil Protection Knowledge Network, fostering collaboration and sharing best practices across EU Member States.

As the EU moves towards a harmonised approach for fire statistics, the Ireland South MEP has welcomed the confirmation of funding for this Preparatory Action as “a significant milestone in advancing pan-European fire safety efforts”.

The new ship is set to replace the LE Eithne – the flagship Helicopter Patrol Vessel (HPV) which was first commissioned in 1994. It was decommissioned in July 2022 after 42 years with the Irish Naval Service.

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The mandatory retirement age for Gardaí, prison officers and members of Ireland’s Defence Forces is set to be increased from 60 to 62, in a move by the Government to retain expertise and increase resources for these frontline organisations.

The decision was announced at Government Buildings by the Tánaiste and Defence Minister Micheál Martin, Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe, after the Cabinet signed off on the plans.

Gardaí and the Defence Forces have suffered from issues with retaining members as well as recruitment in recent years. The maximum recruitment age in the Defence Forces will be increased to 39, as part of the changes which will come into effect from 29 March.

“The recruitment and retention challenges facing our Defence Forces have been well documented, but these measures are a further step towards addressing these issues,” the Tánaiste noted. He added that the retention of personnel remains a challenge in the current economy, notwithstanding the range of pay and non-pay measures already implemented.

He said that existing members of the Defence Forces would not be obligated to work until 62 and could still retire on their pension at 60. “Many of them had been waiting for this announcement….to prolong their careers within the Defence Forces,” he added.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee confirmed it would be voluntary for Gardaí and would apply to all ranks of the force up to assistant commissioner level and beyond. McEntee said she will continue to consider all additional measures to progress and enhance Garda recruitment over the coming months in a bid to reach a target of having more than 15,000 Gardaí in the State Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the Government decision would also improve pensions packages for those who decide to delay their retirement. “If they’re under the age of 60, and they decide to defer their retirement, they will be able to earn the extra pension entitlements at the faster accrual rates, so their pension will be worth more,” he said.

Increasing the mandatory retirement age for Defence Forces personnel, with the maximum age of recruitment rising to 39 years of age, is seen as a further step by the government in addressing "recruitment and retention challenges".


After running last year’s Dublin City Marathon while undergoing cancer treatment Garda Rita Casey, who raised €22,300 for Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation was recently presented with the Mayo Person of the Year Award.

Garda Casey, who had been diagnosed in 2021 and previously fought breast cancer, had received over 40 nominations for the medal, which was presented by Lord Mayor of Dublin, Daithí de Róiste for running her fifth Dublin City Marathon under exceptional circumstances.

From Malin Head and now stationed in Charlestown, Co. Mayo. Garda Casey ran the marathon while undergoing chemotherapy for brain and lung cancer. The mum-of-three finds running a great source of stress relief, and with the assistance of medication, she completed the marathon in just four hours and four minutes.

Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation has been a huge support to Rita and her family since her diagnosis. Martina Jennings, CEO of Mayo Roscommon Hospice, said: “To undertake such a challenge and raise over €22,000 in the process, is phenomenal…. her donation will go a long way in supporting those with life limiting conditions.”

The funds will ensure the best facilities and services will be provided to the patients and their families in Mayo and Roscommon. On behalf of the Foundation, she thanked Garda Casey for her fundraising efforts and wished her well as she continues her treatment.

Rita Casey was honoured with a ‘Mayo Person of the Year’ award for 2024 by Mayo Association Dublin on International Women’s Day on 8 March in Dublin.

Martina Jennings, CEO of Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation, pictured with Garda Rita Casey following the presentation of the ‘Mayo Person of the Year Award’ for 2024 to Rita on 8 March at the Intercontinental Hotel in Dublin.
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Emergency Warning Satellite Service projected for 2025 launch

A new emergency warning satellite service, due to be launched by the EU’s global satellite navigation system (Galileo) in 2025, aims to alert people in the event of hazardous incidents. The fourth and final demonstration of the service was hosted by the European STELLAR project in the Belgian city of Arlon in January.

The Galileo infrastructure offers satellite capacity to national civil protection authorities to broadcast an alert message, which is then received on any type of navigation device, such as a mobile phone, located within the affected area.

This emergency warning satellite service (EWSS), which remains available

During the demonstration in January, an alert was broadcast focused on a flood scenario – providing an initial alert and an update of the severity of the flood, asking recipients to evacuate the danger area.

even when telecommunications networks are disrupted or down, is free of charge and can serve as a complementary alerting channel for civil protection authorities to integrate into their public warning system. The service will be launched in 2025.

The STELLAR project, which started in 2022 and is managed by the European Commission (DG DEFIS), demonstrated the capabilities of the Galileo EWSS in four realistic disaster scenarios.

These included a factory explosion, based on the AZF Factory explosion of 2001 in Toulouse, France and the Chempark explosion of 2021 in Leverkusen, Germany; a wildfire and a tsunami in Cyprus based on two incidents in the Mediterranean; and a flood affecting an area spanning the border of Belgium and Luxembourg, based on the summer flooding in several European countries in July2021.

European civil protection authorities participated in these demonstrations to experience the characteristics, performance and potential of the service. They were shown how to use the system to generate alert messages and to better understand the type of information individuals within affected areas of a disaster would receive in an alert message.

This information includes the type and severity of the disaster, the expected onset and duration, a precise overview of the affected area and instructions to protect individuals and their properties. Over the course of the four demonstrations, 16 European

member states were represented by national and local civil protection authorities, first responders and emergency call-takers.

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The Reality Of Life Inside The Gaza Strip

Providing medical and humanitarian care in a war zone is challenging at the best of times, but aid workers on the ground in Gaza have been faced with unprecedented conditions. An emergency aid co-ordinator and a rapid deployment staff member talk to Christine Maguire about the increasingly dire situation, mostly for the war-wounded women and children.

With over 31,000 Palestinians killed and almost 73,000 wounded since 7 October 2023, and most of the population displaced to the south, where hunger and disease spread and the threat of an Israeli offensive looms, the situation in Gaza is increasingly dire.

Gaza’s health infrastructure has been decimated after almost five months of attacks that have seen overcrowded hospitals – none of which are fully functioning – bombed, raided and left without electricity and basic supplies.

Marie-Aure Perreaut Revial, an emergency co-ordinator with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) who is shortly due to return to Gaza, spoke to ‘Emergency Services Ireland’ about difficult working conditions at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir-al-Belah in central Gaza.

“It was overcrowded, apocalyptic emergency departments…with patients lying everywhere, directly on the floor, or in the best case scenario on cardboard boxes, because there were no beds. And when we say patients, we’re talking critically injured patients,” she said.

MSF psychologist at Al Aqsa Hospital with a young girl who lost her whole family in the bombing and has been in the hospital since. She doesn’t know her family have been killed. 29 November 2023 (© MSF)

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“Sometimes they will be [the doctors and nurses’] own relatives or colleagues. But then you have another patient who is also critically injured next to them. So, it’s a lot of very difficult, if not impossible, equations they must deal with. At the end of the day, you would have many healthcare workers saying, ‘Did I make the right decision? Did I go to the right patients?’” she said.


At the European Gaza Hospital (EGH) in Khan Younis, as nearby explosions rattle windows, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) medical teams perform “war surgery”, where the mission is “doing the most for the most” for victims of mass casualties, and a lack of supplies means improvisation is essential.

“You have an airstrike somewhere, and then you have a whole residential building collapsing, and at least 20 people coming in,” according to Kunlawat Note Chittarat, a member of the ICRC’s rapid deployment staff in Gaza. “When you don’t have water, how do you make sure you’re stitching up something that won’t be infected again in the next few hours?”, he told 'Emergency Services Ireland'

Wounds are being kept open, covered with gauze, to prevent infection, and doctors’ aprons replace sterile bed sheets when they run out. In operating theatres, ventilation and even the saline dripping into IV bags are done manually.

At Al Aqsa, “We had very, very high infection rates,

EMERGENCY SERVICES IRELAND 21 OVERSEAS AID Patients waiting to be assessed at Al Aqsa Hospital – 29 November 2023 (© MSF)
Marie-Aure Perreaut Revial, an emergency co-ordinator with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF)


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and sometimes we would see people who had one wound that was so so badly infected – and I’m talking worms coming out of the wounds – that then they needed an amputation,” Revial said.

Displaced Palestinians have flocked to hospitals for shelter, even though “there is no safe space left”. Chittarat estimates that “20,000 are living in and around the EGH compound” with tents lining the corridors, and even the staircases.

Many of the doctors working there are also displaced. They “risk their lives to come here to work,” Chittarat said. “Going back home, they don’t know if their home will still be there, or if their families will still be there waiting.”

Revial tells the story of a nurse who learned that her sister in northern Gaza had been killed from a TikTok video and returned to work after one day. “She said, ‘I have nothing else I can do. I cannot reach her, we cannot get her body back. I don’t know about the rest of the family... So I need to work to forget.’”


The ratio of women and children being treated for war wounds is “so much higher than many other places the ICRC has been working,” Chittarat said. “In three days, I think I saw three children under the age of two being treated. There shouldn’t be that much collateral damage.”

Discharging patients who have nowhere to go is another issue, and many are children with no surviving relatives. “What do you tell a nine-year-old who has lost their entire family when they need to free up a hospital bed?” Revial said.

– 29 November 2023.
A patient receives a new dressing at Al Aqsa hospital
(© MSF)
Kunlawat Note Chittarat (ICRC) Kunlawat Note Chittarat, a member of the rapid deployment staff with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

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Psychologists in Gaza are trying to support “children as young as young as five with suicidal thoughts,” she said. “They themselves also have lost families, have been displaced. So they're going through the same trauma. And then they have to provide coping mechanisms to children who just want to die.”

An MSF health worker attends people at the waiting area in Al-Shaboura clinic, Rafah, Gaza – 16 December 2023 (© Mohammed Abed)


In Rafah, where over half of Gaza’s 2.3 million population is displaced and living in tents, Chittarat describes animals falling down in the streets from hunger, and a child making a single pea last for three minutes. “People are going days without food just so that their children can have something to chew on,” he explained, and animal feed is being used to make bread. Meanwhile, in the north, people are facing famine due to a lack of food.

“When it rains, some people sleep on cold, wet sand, as not everybody has a plastic sheet to put on the floor because they’d rather use that as the tent,” Chittarat said. “And of course, in camps, when you get one person sick, you get half the camp sick.”

At the Shohada Health Centre in Khan Younis, where half the patients are “under the age of five”, the MSF sees “respiratory tract infections, skin disease, such as scabies, and diarrhoea. All of these mean no access to water, no access to hygiene or sanitation,” Revial said.

Chttarat is “amazed” that there is not more civil unrest….“And that kid with the pea, she wanted to share her other pea with me…. I don’t know where they get that strength.”

Revial is often asked how Gaza is different to other crises. “This is a humanitarian crisis, but we’re not able to provide a humanitarian response,” she said. “This is also documented. Since day one, everybody knows the scale. Everybody knows women and children are targeted, that they’re suffering, that the entire [Gaza] strip is being destroyed.

“We’re always talking about intensification, but this word doesn’t make sense anymore,” she added. “Because the level of destruction, the level of suffering that we’ve reached, is beyond something that you can use words to describe.”

For further information and to donate to the aid appeals, visit Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) www.msf.ie and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) www.icrc.org/en

The rising levels of rubbish in the camp in Rafah (©ICRC) Tents and shelters in Rafah displacement camp (©ICRC) Tents outside the European Gaza Hospital (©ICRC)

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Nursing wounds of workplace assaults Monitoring impact on healthcare staff

A national policy and inspection team has been set up by the Health and Safety Authority to investigate the impact that the increased number of assaults against nurses and midwives is having within the healthcare setting. The initiative has been in response to a recent lobbying campaign on the issue by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation. Derek Nagle reports.

The rising level of verbal and physical assaults on nurses and midwives over the last three years is now a real cause for concern, as figures have shown that the number of incidents totalled 18,185 from January 2020 to December 2023.

However, many assaults are not reported, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), which is cause for even greater concern, because the impact of such assaults may have life-changing consequences for those working at the frontline of the healthcare sector.

The HSE’s National Incident Management System (NIMS), which monitors verbal, physical and sexual assaults on staff, was first introduced in 2015 by the State Claims Agency. This requires all incidents to be reported through a centralised national system with the intention of ultimately improving data quality and includes voluntary organisations.

Incidents are categorised based on severity under ‘negligible’, ‘minor’, ‘moderate’ and ‘major’. A negligible

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incident is categorised as one that has not caused physical or psychological harm, and which does not require treatment. Time off work, therefore, is not deemed necessary in this case.

A ‘major’ incident is categorised as one which results in severe harm which leads to a period of stay in hospital of more than eight days. In this case time off work for a period of more than six months may be required.

Of the total number of assaults on nurses and midwives between 2020 and 2023 alone, seven were categorised as ‘major’, 600 ‘moderate’, 1,591 ‘minor’ and the other 15,987 were classed as ‘negligible’.


According to a spokesperson for the INMO, the reason that many assaults go unreported is because the statistics only relate to what has been collated by the HSE. “They don’t cover the Section 38 organisations which are large voluntary hospitals, psychiatric or a lot of community services where we know the incidents of assault are much higher,” she noted.

The INMO believes there is a connection between the increased number of assaults on nursing staff and overcrowded hospitals and poor staffing – if the facility does not have the correct staffing levels or beds this only adds to the pressure. The representative organisation also believes that the employer has a duty to enhance security in our hospitals.

“The HSA provides sector specific information and e-learning programmes on occupational health and safety in health and social care settings” – Dr Adrienne Duff, Assistant Chief Executive of the HSA’s Occupational Health Division.

“We must get back to the mentality that security is the hospital’s responsibility, and the security staff must be a core part of the overall staff structure and must be placed and/or available in the emergency department. Sometimes, people are looking for security personnel, but they have responsibility for the whole campus and not just one department,” the INMO’s spokesperson added.


The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) now has a dedicated national policy and inspection team focusing on the healthcare sector as part of its newly established Occupational Health Division. This is as a result of additional funding in recent years.

Dr Adrienne Duff, Assistant Chief Executive of the HSA’s Occupational Health Division, is keen to point out that her organisation has already increased its focus on the health and social care sector.

“The HSA continues to prioritise the health and social care sectors and undertakes a mix of proactive and reactive inspections across the sector as well as providing sector specific information and e-learning programmes on occupational health and safety in health and social care settings,” she told ‘Emergency Services Ireland’

The new initiative has been due to a successful lobbying campaign by the INMO. It believes that since the HSA’s work has been transformative in the farming and construction sectors, then the Authority has a vital role to play in highlighting the impact that assaults within the healthcare setting have. The INMO now looks forward to strong employee representation in the work of the new Health and Social Care Advisory Committee.

The HSA carried out 510 inspections and investigations in the health and social care sectors in 2022. This resulted in one prohibition notice, 12 improvement notices and 342 written advice notices. Data for 2023 will be available later this year.


The HSA’s Health and Social Care Division also carried out inspections in 26 emergency departments in 2023, which covered a range of occupational health and safety issues. Inspections for the coming year will take place in hospitals, nursing homes, residential care facilities and primary care services. They will focus on key risk areas to include workrelated violence and aggression.

According to a HSE spokesperson, ensuring the safety of employees and service users is a priority and it is committed to creating a safe environment within which to work. It also continues to emphasise the

The HSA’s Health and Social Care Division also carried out inspections in 26 emergency departments in 2023. These covered a range of occupational health and safety issues.
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management of work-related aggression and violence. Its areas of focus are a review of the national policy on the management of work-related aggression and violence, risk assessment and training.

“The HSE has long been proactive in encouraging staff to report all incidents and in directing managers to review all incidents. This is enshrined in the HSE Corporate Safety Statement, the HSE Policy on the Prevention and Management of Work-Related Aggression & Violence and the HSE Incident Management Framework and Guidance 2020,” he said.


Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, the HSA’s Dr Adrienne Duff pointed out that the legislation “places duties on employers to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, employee safety, health and welfare at work”.

In her view the main aim of managing violence and aggression at work is to prevent incidents as much as possible and to minimise the consequences of an incident, should one occur.

If a HSE staff member has been the victim of an assault its EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) makes counselling available to that member. This is initially up to six counselling sessions, but the type and length of each session is such dependent on how the staff member has been impacted by the assault so this may also include trauma counselling.

An INMO spokesperson reports on the stark reality that some are forced to face due to workplace attacks. “Certain assaults have unfortunately been career ending for some of our members and many have to deal with the trauma of their assaults for a long period of time after the assault occurred.

“While we know that the levels of hospital overcrowding can lead to a pressurised environment, it is never acceptable to assault a healthcare professional while they are trying their best to provide safe care,” she said.


Many assaults are not reported, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), The INMO believes there is a connection between the increased number of assaults on nursing staff and overcrowded hospitals and poor staffing.


Government moves to increase the maximum penalty for assaulting nurses, midwives and other frontline workers were welcomed by the INMO back in May 2023.

With over ten nurses enduring some kind of physical, verbal or sexual assault in their workplace every day, INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that her union very much welcomed the Government’s announcement that enacting legislation to increase the sentence for assaulting frontline workers.

“Nurses and midwives need hospital management to use the powers they have and support staff and make complaints to Gardai – a zero tolerance approach is required and that is not the case at present.

"Legislative protection by itself is not enough, the Health and Safety Authority needs to play an enhanced role in tackling assaults of nurses. There must be more inspections, prosecutions of employers who fail to keep staff safe. There must be a dedicated division established within the HSA to deal directly with the health service. This is an ask the INMO has put directly to Government and the Authority itself.

“Hospitals are not just places of care, they are workplaces. We need to know what measures are being put in place to protect a largely female work force. The employer’s remit is to provide a safe workplace. Over ten assaults every day is not acceptable.” (Source: INOM website, 23 May 2023)

by the HSA’s Health and Social Care Division for the coming year, scheduled to take place in hospitals, nursing homes, residential care facilities and primary care services, will focus on key risk areas such as workrelated violence and aggression.
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Careers Fair on the Horizon for EMS and Military Personnel

The first ever careers fair for Ireland’s emergency services and military personnel, who may be looking out for advice and guidance on opportunities following retirement from frontline service, will take place on Thursday 18 April at the City North Hotel & Conference Centre, Gormanstown, Co. Meath.

The theme of the first ‘Out of the Blue Career Horizons Expo’ is 'Thank You for Your Service', according to Stephen Moore, the founder of Out of the Blue Training & Employment Services, which is organising the inaugural event in April.

“On the day over 40 stalls will be there to showcase what’s now available from a range of recruitment companies, upskilling institutions, government agencies and selected companies, in addition to panel discussions on issues from pensions, finance and legal, upskilling, the recruitment process to health and wellbeing.

“It will be a one-stop-shop, offering everything from networking, recruitment, and upskilling opportunities for all those planning their retirement from service, who wish to embark on a new career. We expect up to 800 attendees on the day,” he told ‘Emergency Services Ireland’. He added that there will also be a parade of vintage emergency services and military vehicles during the expo, while several dignitaries have been invited to attend.


“It will be a one-stopshop, offering everything from networking, recruitment and upskilling opportunities,” says Stephen Moore, event organiser.

The brochure for the ‘Out of the Blue Career Horizons Expo’ notes that the event is designed to guide individuals approaching retirement through seamless career transitions. “This expo is a celebration of triumphs, a hub of opportunities, and a bridge to future success…..your comprehensive guide, ensuring you navigate the transition from service to success with confidence and empowerment….

“Expert speakers will share valuable insights, networking opportunities will unfold, and success stories will inspire. This expo is not just about what you’ve done; it is about what you can

become. Let ‘Out of The Blue Career Horizons Expo’ be the stepping stone to your future triumphs. Navigate the beginning of your new career horizons with confidence, knowledge, and a network of support.”

Stephen Moore has 20 years of experience working in An Garda Síochána, where he trained over 2,000 Gardaí in interview techniques. He is also the author of three books ‘The Guardians – 100 years of An Garda Síochána’, ‘Pearse Street 100’ and ‘A History of Kevin Street Garda Station’.

A former Divisional Rep with the Garda Representative Association (GRA), Moore is “passionate about helping members of the emergency services and the defence forces to transition to new careers”.

He understands that leaving or retiring from the emergency services or military can be “a daunting task”, and said he is committed to providing individuals with the support and guidance they need to succeed.


National Rescue Challenge set for Mullingar in May

Mullingar Fire Station will host this year’s National Rescue & CPR Challenge on Saturday 11 May, as the annual event once again provides statutory and voluntary emergency services with an opportunity to demonstrate and share their skillsets in cardiac arrest management and prehospital trauma care.

The National Rescue Challenge, organised by Rescue Organisation Ireland, is the only event in Ireland where both the statutory and voluntary emergency services come together to share their skills and compete in patient care rescue scenarios. Rescue Organisation Ireland will join forces with Westmeath Fire Service to host this year’s event at Mullingar Fire Station on 11 May, which will provide many different learning opportunities for fire crews, EMS personnel and community first responders. There will also be a free ‘CPR Challenge’, in partnership with Hibernian Healthcare, which will be open to members of the public.

The national event is hosted by ROI every year to focus on improving, updating and standardising training for EMS and fire services personnel when responding to Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs).

The National Rescue Challenge in Mullingar Fire Station will determine and select the top RTC Extrication and Trauma teams to go forward to represent Ireland at this year’s World Rescue Challenge (WRC2024) on 5-9 November in Portugal.


Rescue Organisation Ireland (ROI), a voluntary organisation and a registered

charity, was first founded in 2008 by members of Ireland’s fire and emergency services to improve, update and standardise the training of emergency services personnel, in particular firefighters, who regularly respond and deal with RTCs on Ireland’s roads.

According to the organisation’s Executive Committee, “ROI was set up in response to the consistently high level of incidents on our roads and how we as professionals in the emergency services can strive to improve and train to be better at what we do.

“It is only by the drive and commitment of its members that we have developed to the point that ROI is now the leading authority on crash rescue techniques and RTC training in Ireland.

“The ROI Executive Committee comprises members from across the island and covers various roles and organisations across the Irish emergency services. Every year the organisation holds this National Rescue Challenge event, which is focused on RTC Extrication and Trauma scenarios, in addition to hosting regular Skills Development Days.

“These events are hosted in different locations around Ireland, in conjunction with the fire authority in that area, as a means of promoting casualty centred training and the ‘Rescue Challenge’ concept in all parts of Ireland.”


The teams who represented Ireland at the World Rescue Challenge 2023 in Lanzarote:

* Kildare Civil Defence: Third overall in the Complex Trauma Challenge

* 3DC: Third overall in the Standard Trauma Challenge

* Laois Civil-Defence and Carlow County Fire & Rescue Service: Joint fifth overall in Complex Trauma.

* Carlow County Fire & Rescue Service: Fourth overall technical teams in Tier 2 Extrication Challenge and fifth overall medic in Tier 3 Extrication Challenge.

* Dublin Fire Brigade Extrication and Trauma Team: Fourth overall medic in Tier 3 Extrication Challenge and fifth overall technical team in Tier 2 Extrication Challenge.


Organised by the World Rescue Organisation (WRO), this year’s World Rescue Challenge will be hosted by the Portuguese Rescue Organisation – Associação Nacional de Salvamento e Desencarceramento (ANSD) – on Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal on 5-9 November.

The WRO was established in 1999 to provide a platform for rescue and medical personnel from around the world to develop their skills and capability when responding to post-crash incidents, and it set up the ‘World Rescue Challenge’ concept as a result.

In a statement on the WRO website, Paul Schroeder, Chair of the World Rescue Organisation, said: “The innovative ‘rescue challenge ‘concept is unique in terms of mobilising a wide spectrum of rescue and medical personnel with varying skill sets, to collaborate in the development of best practice, casualty centred rescue and care through the delivery of safe and efficient interventions.

“The overall aim of the international organisation is to work with partners in developing enhanced proficiency in rescue techniques, incident management and medical care, the introduction of multi-agency casualty cantered approach to all post-crash incidents and the development of partnerships at national and international levels.”

As a Level 1 member of the WRO, Ireland is scheduled to host the World Rescue Challenge in 2028, after first hosting the event in Cork in 2010.

For further information and updates visit www.wrescue.org/News-Stories/

https://www.facebook.com/RescueOrgIre NATIONAL RESCUE CHALLENGE 2024
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Emergency services to join forces with healthcare students

Northern Ireland’s emergency services, community groups and voluntary agencies will join forces to run multiple scenarios and training exercises for healthcare students, during ‘Resilience Day’ on Saturday 23 March at the Ulster University campus in Derry.

Resilience Day will see the various agencies in Northern Ireland such as the PSNI, military reserves, ambulance and fire services, first responders etc, come together on Saturday 23 March. They will roll out several ‘incidents’ to enable paramedic, n ursing and allied health professional students to put into practice what they have been taught over the previous years, according to Mary Marren, Event Co-Ordinator and Lecturer in Nursing at Ulster University.

“Up to 450 students will take part on the day – 360 adult and mental health nursing students, 40 paramedic students and 50 allied health professional students will be divided into 54 teams of eight. At least 20 scenarios, to run concurrently, will include mass casualties, community and in-hospital chaotic events, natural disasters etc,” she told ‘Emergency Services Ireland’

So, what first prompted Ulster University to hold an event such as ‘Resilience Day’? “Traditionally healthcare students do not see themselves as having the leadership capabilities or skillsets to respond appropriately to chaotic/crisis events.

“We wanted to change this perspective and allow students to experience these type of events in a safe environment so that they can build resilience to respond appropriately in such situations,” noted Marren.

“Simulation is the teaching method of choice as building muscle memory helps respondents to increase their likelihood of responding to a stressful event in an appropriate way as opposed to trying to make sense of what has just happened.

“The use of live actors enhances the fidelity of the simulation exercise, providing invaluable learning for all involved. Derry City has encountered much crisis events over the years and therefore the community organisations were keen to get involved and see this as learning for all.

“By coming together, participating and sharing information we each get a sense of each other’s roles within the community and have an opportunity to form strong bonds allowing us all to work together effectively should we encounter crisis events in the future.”

Agencies taking part in ‘Resilience Day’ include:

Derry City Airport Fire Service

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service

North-West Community First Responders

Health Action Training

St Johns Ambulance

Military Reserves

Red Cross Northern Ireland

Ulster University’s Faculty of Life and Health Sciences

Police Service Northern Ireland

Western Health and Social Care Trust

Royal National Lifeboat Institution

Eglinton Community Group

Northwest Regional College

Derry City & Strabane District Council

Mary Marren said that they would very much welcome to hear from EMS agencies from the Republic of Ireland who may be interested in taking part in ‘Resilience Day’.


The students who will take part are into the third year of the BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science course – the first such university-based course in Northern Ireland, according to Niall Carty, Lecturer in Paramedic Science in the School of Nursing and Paramedic Science at Ulster University. The Nursing Course at Ulster University is ranked seventh in the UK and supplies several hundred nurses every year near and far, he noted.

For further details email Mary Marren m.marren@ulster.ac.uk or Niall Carty n.carty@ulster.ac.uk

A ‘999 week’ in January introduced students to several agencies they will encounter during their careers.
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Strategies highlight key priorities for Irish Prison Service

Two new strategies for the Irish Prison Service, marking a new chapter in the approach to imprisonment and substance abuse within Ireland’s prison system, have been launched following an extensive consultation process to identify the strategic priorities that will shape its operations over the next five years.

Officially launching the Irish Prison Service ‘Statement of Strategy 2023-2027’ and the ‘Drugs Strategy 2023-2026’ at Mountjoy Prison, Minister of State at the Department of Justice, James Browne TD, said that they represent the culmination of extensive consultation and collaboration.

The collaborative effort has involved senior management and staff from across the prison estate, and, for the first time, engagement with those in custody facilitated by the Irish Red Cross.

“This contribution has provided a roadmap for the Irish Prison Service to enhance prisoner rehabilitation, improve employee experiences, streamline processes, embrace digital platforms, and strengthen governance,” he noted.

“Furthermore, the new drug strategy underscores our commitment to reducing the harm caused by substance abuse within our prisons. Prisons are their own communities within communities, and anything we can do to make this community safer, benefits us all.”

Five key pillars to shape Irish Prison Service priorities over the next five years:

1. Prisoner Pathways

2. Employee Experience

3. New Business Processes

4. Digital Platforms

5. Governance Framework

Highlighting the commitment of the Irish Prison Service (IPS) to ensuring a safe and rehabilitative environment for both staff and prisoners, IPS Director General Caron McCaffrey said that both strategies “enable us to address the challenges we face while providing clear direction for the future. By working together, we can make a meaningful impact on prisoner pathways, employee wellbeing, operational efficiency, digitalisation and overall governance”.

The new Drugs Strategy 2023-2026 outlines a series of goals aimed at reducing the harm caused by substance abuse within the prison environment. Building upon the commitments of the Irish Prison Service, ‘Keeping Drugs Out of Prison Strategy’, the new drugs strategy provides practical measures to be implemented by the Irish Prison Service in addressing the issue of illicit drug use over the next three years.

The publication of both the strategic plan and the drugs strategy is seen as a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to transform the prison system in Ireland at a time when the system is undergoing significant challenges.

Minister of State at the Department of Justice, James Browne TD; Irish Prison Service Director General Caron McCaffrey, and Governor of Mountjoy Prison Ray Murtagh, pictured following the launch of both strategies in Mountjoy Prison on 29 November 2023.


The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has welcomed many elements of IPS strategy documents. Saoirse Brady, IPRT’s Executive Director, welcomed the particular focus in the strategy plan on examining alternative prisoner pathways for people who did not pose a risk of serious harm and reducing overcrowding in prisons.

She said that the strategy outlined plans for improved prisoner services to accommodate for the recent growth in the number of people in prison – including healthcare, rehabilitation, education, pathways to employment, and resettlement.

However, she warned that broader efforts across the criminal-justice system must focus on reducing the number of people sent to prison in the first place. Brady highlighted the IPRT’s particular concern about the high rates of people on remand in prisons.

She also welcomed plans by the IPS to improve and expand its digital platforms – including the introduction of self-service kiosks and in-cell telephones and devices but added that these enhancements should not be a replacement for in-person visits.

IPRT acknowledged that Ireland’s prison service was faced with “an extraordinarily difficult situation” regarding the impact that drugs had on the prison estate. “It is commendable to see the IPS recognise the need for meaningful and wide-ranging co-operation and partnership across all criminal-justice and support agencies to tackle the problem of drug use,” the IPRT noted in a statement.


Finalists Announced for Capt. Dara Fitzpatrick Award 2024

Five finalists were announced for this year’s Capt. Dara Fitzpatrick Award on International Women’s Day (8 March). The award ceremony will be hosted by the School of Medicine at the University of Limerick on Wednesday 1 May.

The Capt. Dara Fitzpatrick Award was launched by the Irish Paramedicine Education and Research Network (IPERN) at the University of Limerick (UL) on 8 March 2023 to honour the memory of one of Ireland’s first female search and rescue pilots.

Capt. Fitpatrick lost her life in March 2017 during a rescue mission off Mayo’s north coast, which also claimed the lives of her three R116 crew members – Captain Mark Duffy, and winch operators Ciarán Smith and Paul Ormsby.

The award ceremony on 1 May will once again celebrate those women working in full-time or voluntary roles who have distinguished themselves on particular callouts or events within the Irish pre-hospital setting and the emergency services community.


The IPERN’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Special Interest Group announced this year’s award finalists on 8 March to mark International Women’s Day. “Following on from last year’s inaugural award ceremony, we have yet again been overwhelmed by the response to the call for nominations and by the nominees themselves who are shining examples of women at the height of their professions,” according to Dr Niamh Cummins, IPERN Chair.

Pictured at the inaugural award presentation on 8 March 2023 (l-r): Dr Niamh Cummins, IPERN Chair; Frances Griffin, award recipient and NAS paramedic; Grainne O’Shea, IPERN Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion lead; and Orla Fitzpatrick, sister of the late Capt. Dara Fitzpatrick. (Pic: Keith Wiseman, Irish Examiner)

The Capt. Dara Fitzpatrick Award was launched in 2023 to honour the memory of one of Ireland’s first female search and rescue pilots.

“All of our nominees embody Dara’s values of Compassion & Kindness, Strength & Bravery, Leadership & Teamwork, and Professionalism. It was an extremely difficult task for the award review panel,” noted Dr Cummins, who is Associate Professor in Public Health at the School of Medicine in the University of Limerick.

The following finalists for this year's award are as follows:

• Caitriona Edgar (National Ambulance Service)

• Emma Henebery (An Garda Síochána)

• Nicole Carroll (Irish Defence Forces)

• Olivia Byrne (RNLI Galway)

• Sinead Campbell-Gray (Air Ambulance Northern Ireland)


Donegal paramedic Frances Griffin was the overall winner of the inaugural Capt. Dara Fitzpatrick Award last year.


Representing the National Ambulance Service (NAS), Frances was one of the first responders at the scene of the explosion in her local community of Creeslough, Co. Donegal which claimed the lives of 10 people in October 2022.

Commending the NAS paramedic’s strength and bravery, Dr Cummins said: “She knew it was likely that someone she knew would be involved and was completely focused and professional. She was involved in removing the most seriously injured patient from the rubble,” she said.

“Ms Griffin also treated and stabilised another seriously injured patient at the scene. Both of those patients survived, and she personally knew everyone involved,” Dr Cummins noted, adding that the NAS paramedic had reached out to and supported her colleagues in the aftermath of the explosion.

At the inaugural awards ceremony last March, the five finalists were described by IPERN as an “amazing inspiration and support to their colleagues”. The other four finalists were:

* Sligo Bay RNLI, Eithne Davis, has launched on service 164 times, trained at sea for over 396 hours and has been directly involved in saving nine lives, while assisting in bringing 131 people to safety at sea.

* Eunice Langley, Defibrillation and Resuscitation Access (DARA) has seen 10,000 people trained in CPR, due to her tenacity stretching over 16 years.

* Defence Forces’ Medical Corps, Finola Lafferty, a paramedic and company quartermaster. has been nominated 11 times by her colleagues for her leadership in overseas deployments and compassion in civilian care during the pandemic.

* RCSI’s Advanced Paramedic Michelle O’Toole, attached to the Department of Paramedicine at Monash University, is leading innovative work internationally, while being an advocate for the mental health of first responders and their families.

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Coast Guard responds to increased level of call-outs

The Irish Coast Guard responded to a total of 2,788 incidents last year (the second highest in five years). The incident count covered the range of services it provides, which includes search and rescue, maritime casualty support and pollution preparedness and response, in addition to air ambulance services and assistance with missing person cases.

The Coast Guard’s provision of the air ambulance services to the Health Service Executive (HSE) includes day and night aeromedical services to the offshore islands, and assists An Garda Síochána with missing person searches, including inland and mountain rescue, as well as provision of other support to the emergency services.

With critical assistance provided to 665 people during 2023, this reflects interventions that prevented loss of life or serious injury, and emergency transfers to hospitals, including offshore, coastal, and inland incidents and offshore island aero medical support.

Following Government approval, a contract for the provision of the new Coast Guard aviation contract was signed with Bristow Group in August 2023. The contract provides for retention of day and night SAR helicopter services at Sligo, Shannon, Waterford and Dublin.

The contract also provides for the provision of a day and night fixed wing service located at Shannon, which will serve to enhance the Coast Guard’s Search and Rescue and environmental monitoring capability.



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The helicopter service will be delivered by a fleet of six AW189 helicopters. The first helicopter is scheduled to enter service in Shannon in late 2024, to be followed by Sligo, Waterford and Dublin in the first six months of 2025.


Jack Chambers, TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard, thanked all the IRCG volunteers and staff for their professionalism and commitment, with particular recognition for the watch officers at the Rescue Co-ordination Centres in Malin, Valentia and MRCC Dublin.

During the year Minister Chambers visited several Volunteer Coast Guard Units around the country, which he said had enabled him to recognise the services they provide to their communities and to view firsthand the various challenges that they encounter.

“The opening of the Volunteer Coast Guard station in Bonmahon, Co. Waterford was a particular highlight,

and I am committed to delivering a series of other similar developments commencing with Westport and Greystones,” he noted.

The capacity to ‘Raise the Alarm and Stay Afloat’ are central to the prevention of drownings at sea, along the coast and on inland waterways. The Coast Guard’s core safety message ‘Stay Afloat – Stay in Touch’ highlights the importance of never engaging in any commercial or recreational boating activity without wearing a life jacket or Personal Flotation Device (PFD), coupled with a capacity to raise the alarm via means such as a VHF radio, Personal Locator Beacon or EPIRB.

Any maritime or coastal activity should be supported by informing shore-based colleagues of intended activity and anticipated return time. Mobile phones should not be considered as a suitable substitute or be relied upon as the only means of emergency communication at sea.

The Coast Guard is set to launch a ‘Safety on the Water’ App this year as an element of www.safetyonthewater.gov.ie to provide members of the public with immediate access to water safety information for planning coastal and water-based activities. This app will be launched under the slogan of ‘Think Water Safety – Plan and Prepare’

• The Coast Guard responded to 2,788 incidents in 2023, the second highest in five years (2,976 in 2021).

• August was the busiest month in 2023, with a total of 391 incidents.

• The 44 Coast Guard Units were mobilised on 1,278 separate occasions.

• Coast Guard Helicopters conducted 796 missions.

• RNLI lifeboats were tasked on 850 occasions.

• Community inshore rescue service boats were tasked on 76 occasions.

• Critical assistance was provided to 665 people.

• CG helicopters conducted 174 air ambulance flights in support of the offshore island communities.

The new Coast Guard agreement will see the delivery of six AW189 helicopters. Following Government approval, the new contract for the provision of a ten-year Coast Guard aviation service contract was signed with Bristow Group in August 2023.

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Fleeting look at new aircraft for Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard has provided the first glimpse of the new livery for its next generation aircraft, to be provided under the new ten-year service contract, with the transition to the service scheduled to get underway later in the year.

The new contract, which was awarded to Bristow Ireland Limited by the Department of Transport in August 2023, will provide for a year-round, day and night search and rescue (SAR) helicopter services, delivered through a fleet of six AW189 helicopters located in Dublin, Shannon, Sligo and Waterford.

For the first time, the Irish Coast Guard will also have a dedicated fixed wing service provided by 2EXCEL Ireland (2EI), which will be located at Shannon Airport. The fixed wing capability will enhance the Coast Guard’s capacity to coordinate search and rescue missions and conduct environmental and ship casualty monitoring of Ireland’s exclusive economic zone, an area encompassing approximately 132,000 square miles.

Jack Chambers, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, with responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard said that the new contract represents “an exciting time” for the organisation.

He added that the new service will be introduced gradually over a phased basis with particular attention being paid to enable a smooth transition from the current operator CHC Ireland to Bristow Ireland Limited.

“The release of this livery for the new specialist aircraft, which will replace the existing fleet, marks another important step on the transition of our Coast Guard to the new service provision.”

Neil Ebberson, Bristow’s Director of Government Services, said: “Bristow Ireland is proud to work with the Irish Coast Guard to deliver a new, innovative search and rescue aviation service for the country. This unique

A fleet of six search and rescue configured AW189 helicopters will be based in Dublin, Shannon, Sligo and Waterford.

livery will feature across the new fleet of specialist helicopters, as well as the fixed wing aircraft operated by our partner 2EI, as we start the transition to the new service in late 2024.”

In early February 2024, Bristow was awarded an Air Operators Certificate (AOC) by the Irish Aviation Authority

(IAA) – a significant step in the transition to the new contract. It was awarded after the successful completion of a lengthy application and assessment process run by the IAA and ensures the highest standards of professionalism and safety are met by the operator of the Coast Guard Aviation Service.

For the first time, the Irish Coast Guard will have dedicated fixed wing service provided by 2EXCEL Ireland (2EI), located at Shannon Airport.


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Enforcing law and order Across Dublin’s Fair City

A former Assistant Garda Commissioner has said that it should not take a crisis, such as the violent riots in Dublin city centre late last year, for the force to be fully resourced to ensure that Gardaí get what they need.

Amid calls for a permanent public order unit and other measures, what policing proposals are now in the pipeline for the future?

In the wake of the violent riots that ignited in Dublin city centre last November, the Department of Justice and the Commissioner faced major criticism and were under serious pressure to take action in a bid to ensure that frontline workers are prepared and protected in the event of similar incidents in the future.

During the violence that unfolded in the aftermath of the stabbing of three children and a creche worker on Parnell Street on 23 November 2023, Dublin City Council estimates almost €20m worth of damage was done.

A Luas and a bus were set on fire, shops were looted, Garda cars were destroyed and numerous Gardaí were injured, with 12 assaults involving an injured Garda recorded in the PULSE system that night.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, who has said he will not resign amid

calls for him to step down, told the Oireachtas justice committee on November 29 that following the violence in the city centre, additional personal safety equipment would be purchased and more Gardaí would get public order training, in addition to the 100 added to the public order unit in Dublin this year.

There are plans for all Gardaí to be armed with stronger incapacitant (pepper) spray, which was previously only given to public order, armed support and emergency response units. Public order unit Gardaí are to be issued with 200 tasers –“subject to successful training and accreditation,” Harris said.

Former Assistant Garda Commissioner Dr Jack Nolan told ‘Emergency Services Ireland’ that the riots have been met with a “tough” response, including “the borrowing

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Calls for a ‘get tough’ approach need to be balanced and Garda numbers must be significantly enhanced, operationally, in terms of capacity, numbers, resources and equipmentDr Jack Nolan

of two water cannons from the PSNI, the plans to buy our own water cannons,” the proposed issuing of tasers, “facial recognition technology being introduced and a whole package of other measures.”

However, he said that the “calls for a ‘get tough’ approach have to be balanced” and added that Garda numbers must be “significantly enhanced, operationally, in terms of capacity, numbers, resources and equipment”.


Harris has denied accusations that control of the streets was lost during the riots, saying that order was restored within hours. He claimed that in other capital cities, similar situations had seen normal society “shut down for days”.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) met with Commissioner Harris in the wake of the violence. The GRA called for a review of training tactics, claiming that Gardaí had been isolated during the rioting.

It also noted the distinct lack of specialist helmets on the night, and when Gardaí from as far as Waterford responded to calls for assistance, there was a shortage of transport to bring them to the city. The suitability of trainee Gardaí reportedly being sent to the riots was also raised.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) severely condemned the violence displayed during the riots in Dublin City Centre. AGSI General Secretary

Antoinette Cunningham stated shortly after the riots, “We are seriously concerned for the safety of our members working in such violent, stressful and dangerous conditions.”


Mark Toland, Chief Inspector of An Garda Síochána Inspectorate, told ‘Emergency Services Ireland’ said that while it was not appropriate to comment in relation to the specific incident at that time, he added that the Garda Inspectorate at the request of the Policing Authority completed an inspection in 2019 into the effectiveness of public order policing by the Garda Síochána.

“This inspection made a total of 19 recommendations for the Garda Síochána, and the Inspectorate continues to monitor the implementation of these recommendations.” A review of the report in May 2023 found nine recommendations had been implemented and actions were being taken for the remaining ten.

These included mandatory recertification for all public service commanders to ensure they maintain operational competence, professional knowledge and an understanding of human rights issues; the development of an effective authorisation for deploying public order units for spontaneous public order incidents; and the adoption of a wider definition of “critical incident” that recognises the risk to confidence in policing and which should be embedded into operational practice.


Amid calls from opposition politicians for her resignation, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the Garda response to the riots was “excellent”. After surviving a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the Dáil, she told an Oireachtas Justice Committee meeting on 11 December 2023 that 400 Gardaí were deployed in Dublin city centre that night, including 250 public order Gardaí.

However, according to Nolan, there had been no mention that members of the Garda public order unit, drawn from regular policing units, had to go back to their stations, to [the stores in] Santry to get their equipment during the riots.

“That is because Ireland doesn’t have its own permanent public order unit. Many other countries have permanent public order units,” he added, saying that Ireland’s lack of one was perhaps because “we didn’t have a need for it”. He explained that the Gardaí usually deal with protests and the like using a soft cap approach,

The Justice Minister has promised a “strong, visible Garda presence” in the city going forward.

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where gardaí are in their regular uniforms and try to engage with protesters. It’s only when things escalate that they respond with force. “It looks as if there’s been a change of mindset,” he said.

“A permanent public order unit would be a positive step,” Nolan said. When asked what the unit would do when there are no incidents to respond to, he suggested it could be used as a presence in the city centre, and to conduct “late-night public order patrols.”

The Justice Minister has promised a “strong, visible Garda presence” in the city going forward, and has asked the Policing Authority to look at how gardaí can receive additional support and to provide clarity about the level of force they can use.

Months before the riots took place, she announced the allocation of €10 million to fund Garda overtime to increase police presence in the city centre up to the end of 2023. This was in response to increased violence in the capital; however, it was seen as a short-term measure that didn’t address the issues of falling garda numbers and morale within the force.


Nolan believes the events of 23 November 2023 could be a “seminal moment in policing.” “If we look back at history, there have been several seminal moments in policingthe shooting of Veronica Guerin, for example. Legislation [the 1996 Crime Act and Criminal Assets Bureau Act] was enacted within five to six weeks of her death,” he told ‘Emergency Services Ireland’

“It was the same 10 years later when Roy Collins was

shot in Limerick,” he added, which spurred a crackdown on feuding gangs and increased armed Garda Regional Support Units (RSU) on the streets and led to The Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act that allowed gang-related offences to be sent to the Special Criminal Court to be heard without a jury present.

Legislation allowing gardaí to use bodycams, the Garda Síochána (Recording Devices) Act 2023, was signed into law on 5 December 2023. Bodycams are now due to be rolled out from next spring, starting in Dublin city centre.

Dublin City Council estimates note that almost €20m worth of damage was done on the night of the riots. Shops in Dublin's north inner city were looted during the violence that unfolded in the aftermath of the stabbing of three children and a creche worker on Parnell Street on 23 November 2023.

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Draft Facial recognition technology (FRT) legislation is also to be expanded to include usage for riots and violent disorder. Opponents of FRT cite privacy concerns, racial bias and the risk of it being used without warranted suspicion. McEntee said it will only be “permitted retrospectively” and that it will save Gardaí having to trawl through CCTV footage, “12,000 hours in the case of the Dublin riots”.


Harris said the Gardaí would also evolve their tactics in dealing with the far-right element. The Gardaí’s non-confrontational approach has been criticised and questions have also been raised about how they appeared unprepared for the events that night despite there being chatter about it on ‘X’ and Telegram, which they monitor.

At a meeting between senior Garda management and public service workers from Fórsa at the start of November, Gardaí had said they would review their policing of far-right protests.

However, Ireland’s second largest trade union criticised what it said was the “soft policing” of protests at libraries, migrant

centres and outside the Dail, saying it wasn’t working. “The unprecedented allocation of €2.3 billion to An Garda Síochána for 2024 demonstrates the Government's commitment to ensuring the force has provision for the equipment, technology, facilities, fleet and personnel it needs to carry out vital policing work,” McEntee said in a Dail debate on 12 December 2023.

She also announced €4.4 million in funding 95 extra Garda vehicles, in addition to 10 high visibility community policing vans prepared for deployment.

“However, it shouldn’t take a crisis for police to be fully resourced,” Nolan said, adding that “a lack of finance shouldn’t be an obstacle” to ensuring the Gardaí get what they need, particularly given the country’s current public finances.

“Other countries with similar populations have a larger police presence,” he pointed out. “If we look at Scotland as an example of a country of a similar size, they have far more police and support staff than we do. Denmark and Norway are other countries with similar liberal democratic constitutional systems and larger police forces.”

Draft Facial recognition technology (FRT)legislation is also to be expanded to include usage for riots and violent disorder. Opponents of FRT cite privacy concerns, racial bias and the risk of it being used without warranted suspicion.
A permanent public order unit could be used as a presence in the city centre and to conduct late-night public order patrols, noted Dr Jack Nolan.

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Calls for clampdown as retail crime spirals out of control

The riots in Dublin on 23 November 2023 shocked the nation for their violence and intensity as well as the speed with which they spread across the city, with retailers and employees trapped within their premises for fear of attack by those intent on robbing and causing damage. Derek Nagle checks out the long-term emotional and financial costs.

In the wake of the riots, the Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, chaired by Maurice Quinlivan TD, who himself worked in retail for 19 years, met on 13 December 2023 to debate the issue of shoplifting and the rising levels of assaults against retail workers.

Tara Buckley, Director General of the Retail, Grocery, Dairy and Allied Trades Association (RGDATA), was one of the debate’s participants.

A survey on retail crime undertaken by her organisation found that 93 per cent of its members have been victims of shoplifting and 40 per cent have been victims of fraudulent activity.

Of those surveyed 25 per cent said they had been subjected to violent robberies in their stores, with weapons being used in over one quarter of these crimes.

These included firearms, knives, syringes, hammers, crowbars, bottles and even axes.

With retail crime spiralling out of control in Dublin, it is costing retailers an estimated €1.62 billion every year, according to the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association.

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“Retail theft is most certainly not a victimless crime. Shop owners, staff and customers are victims. Staff and owners in shops deal with criminals who are often aggressive, sexist, racist and who use weapons and threatening behaviour. The average cost to the 3,500 shops, forecourt stores and supermarkets that RGDATA represents throughout Ireland is over €40,000 per store,” she notes.


Buckley believes that the huge rise in retail crime in this country is because serial shoplifters and organised gangs think they can get away with carrying out retail thefts with little or no consequences for them. She also feels there is a serious problem with gangs of youth offenders who believe they are “untouchable and are very aggressive and brazen” about stealing from retailers.

“The courts need to be more consistent on sentencing policies for retail crime, especially for repeat offenders. RGDATA members are extremely frustrated with the courts. Shop owners put a lot of time and effort into providing evidence, making statements and appearing in court and the offenders usually walk free and are back in the shop robbing it again while laughing in the shop owner’s face,” she says.

Retail crime costs retailers an estimated €1.62 billion every year, according to the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association. The Global Retail Theft Barometer also shows that Ireland has the highest cost per capita when it comes to retail crime (€339.31) –significantly more than both second and third placed countries, Iceland and Denmark.

Retailers are spending significantly more on greater security measures and CCTV cameras throughout their stores. Tara Buckley, RGDATA Director General, says that the average cost to the 3,500 shops, forecourt stores and supermarkets represented by her organisation is over €40,000 per store.
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In December 2023 An Garda Síochána rolled out a nationwide programme known as ‘Operation Táirge’ as part of its crime prevention and reduction strategy, supporting operational activity aimed at detecting and preventing Organised Retail Crime (ORC).

ORC usually refers to situations where several persons are acting together, targeting retailer outlets to steal significant quantities of goods to resell back into the retail supply chain through the black market. It can also involve ‘refund fraud’ to make a financial or material benefit.

ORC is usually co-ordinated and well-organised by people who recruit others to commit theft from retailers. Stolen goods are then sold to a ‘fence’ who either sells them at a certain location or in some cases may sell them online in an activity that has come to be known as ‘e-fencing’.

Several arrests have been made across the country since Operation Táirge was set up. Almost immediately after the launch a woman in her 50s was arrested and detained in connection with 11 incidents of alleged theft from retail premises in Athy, Kilkenny, Maynooth, Newbridge, Portlaoise and Wexford.

In relation to ‘naming and shaming’ of persistent shoplifters, Arnold Dillon, Director of Retail Ireland member believes that data protection issues need to be considered.

More Gardaí on the streets is a very significant factor in the security discussion, and retailers say that this is a deterrent.

Shortly after this, two men in their 20s and 40s appeared before the Courts of Criminal Justice in Dublin charged with a spate of robberies which included violence and knives. In one instance petrol was even poured onto the counter of a retail premises to cause fear and intimidation.

Under the National Detection Improvement Plan, ‘Operation Táirge’ aims to support those working in retail to report a crime. Using an intelligence-led approach to identify criminals who engage in retail crime, the programme works with high-risk retailers to enhance prevention, investigation and prosecution. It also works with retailers to help strengthen their security to prevent them from becoming victims of criminality.

Led by the Organised Retail Crime Tasking and Co-ordination Group within An Garda Síochána, the operation will support each Garda region to monitor and respond to emerging trends in their area.

Organised retail crime may also involve an international dimension; therefore, the co-ordination group will maintain its close working relationships with counterparts including the UK and Northern Ireland.

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Arnold Dillon, Director of Retail Ireland and board member of IBEC (Irish Business and Employers Confederation), says that there’s a major and acute stress on retailers when they’re trying to deal with other costs across the board.

“However, they must spend significantly more on security due to shoplifters. More visible Gardaí is a very significant factor in this discussion. Retailers say that this is a deterrent. It’s an ongoing and daily challenge,” he points out.

Dillon makes reference to the Retail Crime Forum which meets more frequently since last year’s Dublin riots and involves An Garda Síochána and the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Simon Coveney.

“The ongoing contact with An Garda Síochána is both positive and constructive. Co-ordinating intelligence is very important to ensure repeat offenders are subject to the full force of the law so increasing the deterrent needs to be looked at,” he says.


There have been reports in other regions of retailers ‘naming and shaming’ persistent shoplifters by posting their images on social media, but Dillon believes that data protection issues need to be considered here.

Tara Buckley of RGDATA notes that the Data Protection Commissioner has objected to individuals’ images being publicised and that a statutory measure to enable this deterrent to be exercised would be helpful.

She feels that whilst local retailers have a lot of sympathy for An Garda Síochána, who are forced to deal with the same aggressive criminals on a daily basis, there is a frustration that retail theft is not taken seriously enough.

“The Gardaí need to be more responsive to reports of retail crime and the courts need to hand down sentences that will give a clear message to criminals that this type of crime is taken seriously and there are consequences for those who rob shops or abuse shop staff," she says.


‘Operation Táirge’ has worked on reducing organised retail crime by:

• Using an intelligence-led approach to identify criminals engaging in retail crime.

• Disrupting the most prolific groups in operation through the use of organised crime legislation and proceeds of crime legislation.

• Working with retailers to strengthen their security and prevent them becoming victims of this criminality.

• Supporting those working in retail to report a crime.

• Identifying and targeting the areas where ORC black markets operate, and their leadership.

• Working with high-risk retailers to enhance prevention, investigation and prosecution.

• Deterring people from becoming involved in organised retail crime by raising awareness of the consequences of committing such offences.

Speaking at the launch of the nationwide operation last December, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said: “Under the National Detection Improvement Plan, An Garda Síochána will provide a reliable and effective and consistent response to retail-related incidents, and ensure that high visibility and targeted patrols are effectively implemented. This will help to provide a safe and unhindered shopping experience for members of the public.

“The Gardaí will work with highrisk retailers to educate them on

Organised Retail Crime behaviours and to help them identify suspicious activity, act on it, make it known to investigating Garda members.”

Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Neale Richmond TD said that the intelligence-led operation targets the most prolific perpetrators of retail crime. “It will support workers and assist businesses in preventing such crime and act as a deterrent by raising awareness of the consequences of this type of criminality. We are sending a clear message that there is no place for retail crime in Ireland.”

Chief Supt Padraic Jones, Garda National Community Engagement Bureau, said, "Organised retail crime poses a significant threat to the viability of Irish retailers including Irish SMEs which are a core element of Ireland’s economy. ‘Operation Táirge’ has been established as part of the Garda Crime Prevention and Reduction Strategy to reduce the detrimental impact which criminals can have on retail businesses when they steal their goods.

“We want business owners and staff to feel protected and safe from this kind of criminality, and we will continue to work closely with them in whatever way possible. Most essential is that we utilise our ongoing intelligence gathering to target and take out these groups –they’re no longer operating under any radar, and they will be caught.”




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Ireland’s Anti-Human Trafficking Action Plan taken to task

Ireland needs a more proactive approach to human trafficking and a better understanding of the nuances involved, according to international experts in anti-human trafficking, who criticised the Government’s latest action plan to combat the problem for what they cite as lacking protection policies. Report by Christine Maguire.

Several Government Departments, An Garda Síochána, TUSLA and the HSE will have significant roles to play in the implementation of the Third National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. The ultimate goals of the plan are to create a more victimcentred approach to identify and support victims, to raise awareness and provide training for those who need it and to prevent, detect and prosecute the traffickers.

The HSE’s Anti Human Trafficking Team will develop an online presence for reaching vulnerable and ‘hard to reach’ victims with a view to increasing access to medical and social care services. The plan aims to ensure that all professionals in contact with children, and working on child-related matters, are qualified in dealing with and recognising victims of trafficking and act in the child’s best interest.

In addition to the new National Action Plan, other initiatives which aim to help combat human trafficking include the improvements being made to the Criminal Justice System to support victims through the implementation of ‘Supporting a Victim’s Journey’.

Following the release of the plan by the Department of Justice last November, Kevin Hyland OBE, the UK’s first Anti-Slavery Commissioner, and Shawn Kohl, Director of the European Anti-Trafficking Programme International Justice Mission, were invited to address an Oireachtas briefing, during which they voiced their concerns at what they perceived to be “a lack of protective measures” contained within the plan.

However, statistics have shown that Ireland remains behind many other European countries for both arrests and convictions in human trafficking and exploitation. In

fact, the true incidence of cases in the State may be 38% higher than official figures, according to a report by the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Project. That report, published by Mary Immaculate College in Limerick in 2021, was supported by the Departments of Justice north and south, as well as An Garda Síochána and the PSNI.


In September 2021 the first convictions in Ireland for human trafficking were handed down by the courts with other investigations ongoing by An Garda Síochána.

During 2022 the Government did not convict any traffickers compared with the prior year, Shawn Kohl pointed out, adding that Ireland has never issued a labour trafficking conviction under its anti-trafficking legislation. “Ireland leaves victims of trafficking in inadequate accommodation – often the same as that of direct provision. Ireland has never awarded restitution or compensation to any victims,” noted Kohl. (Reference: US Department of State, TIP Report).

The US Department of State’s Annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which ranks efforts by countries to combat human trafficking, has moved Ireland from the watchlist to Tier 2. While improvements have been made, and the National Anti-Human Trafficking Action Plan outlines measures to further tackle the issue, Ireland remains behind many other European countries, particularly when it comes to arrests and convictions, he added.


There were zero human trafficking convictions in Ireland in 2022 and three in 2021, whereas in the EU, the number

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of convicted traffickers increased by 54.9% in 2021 compared to 2020.

“Honestly, when you have zero convictions, you can’t profess to be doing an adequate job,” Kohl told ‘Emergency Services Ireland’ He added that this “essentially says people who are exploiting others for profit can do it with impunity,” which he argued was “not consistent with the strategic plan that has been implemented.”

Ireland’s first human trafficking trial came 13 years after the Human Trafficking Act of 2008, delivering three convictions in 2021 after four Nigerian women forced into prostitution gave evidence.

Of this particular case, the Gardaí did an absolutely outstanding job, noted Kevin Hyland OBE, the UK’s first Anti-Slavery Commissioner. “It was investigative work at the best level, so it’s not that the skills are not there, but they did struggle with victim support.”

Hyland said that under a new piece of legislation, a person who believes they’re a victim of human trafficking can make an application to be recognised as such a victim. “I saw this in the UK where procedures created barriers for victims. The average time for victims to be recognised is two years…we need to be careful we’re not taking the same route.” He also noted that statistics on forced labour were missing from the analysis.

Meanwhile, Kohl explained that Ireland’s dearth of convictions is the result of a combination of factors. “You must have political will and a budget attached to it. You must have sophisticated and ongoing training, and the victim infrastructure and support that will give rise to successful cases.

“If there is a desire for the Minister of Justice to deliver on justice, the convicting of individuals must be taken seriously, which requires better support of victims, and those are intricately linked,” he said.


In the EU, a total of 4,109 victims were identified in 2022, with 430 arrests reported. Just 42 victims were identified in Ireland in 2022, whereas Northern Ireland identified 547, “and they’ve had numerous convictions of human trafficking,” Hyland told ‘Emergency Services Ireland’. In fact,

Shawn Kohl, Director of the International Justice Mission’s Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, and Kevin Hyland, the UK’s first independent anti-slavery commissioner addressed an Oireachtas Briefing organised by Independent Senator Sharon Keogan on 7 November 2023.

Northern Ireland has seen a 1000% increase in victims identified in the last four years, but Ireland’s numbers have dropped.

“The systems for identifying victims [in Ireland] have just been poor,” he noted, adding: “The only accommodation and support available has been direct provision.” Direct Provision is not gender specific and puts victims at risk of re-trafficking. The plan aims to create dedicated accommodation for victims, however.

A National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is to be established for identifying victims, and government agencies, like TUSLA and the HSE, will be involved. Training will also be provided to state agencies and industries likely to come across trafficked persons.

Hyland explained that while the NRM will increase the number of victims identified, it won’t help with “accessing victims that really are marginalised.”


The fact that people who have been trafficked can “make an application to be considered a victim” in Ireland is problematic, Hyland believes. “Just take that word out, ‘human trafficking’ – which is a crime in

Ireland and holds life imprisonment – and replace it with ‘domestic violence’ or ‘sexual violence’ or ‘rape’,” he said.

He said that action plan “misses real opportunities” in victim support, including a non-punishment principle – where someone who commits a crime directly related to their trafficking can’t be prosecuted for it – and victim compensation or reparation, although it does mention that it is going to be looked at.

“Victims need specialised centres with specific services that are dedicated to them,” Kohl said. “Once victims are provided a continuum of care, they actually will engage with cases, and when you have victim engagement, you're more likely to have successful outcomes.”


The Metropolitan Police in the UK has seen some success with human trafficking. In one example cited by Kohl, police ensured that a young Romanian girl forced into sex work had support and was safeguarded when she went back to Romania, where she gave a strong statement and was prepared for her return to the UK to give evidence.

Her traffickers received 15- and 16-year sentences, and her handler was subsequently convicted. The recruiter and transporter in Romania


were also tried. The victim was awarded compensation in a later claim in the UK. “In that case you actually see the entire organised crime group being held responsible.”

He also pointed to The Netherlands’ compensation scheme, which “places the burden on the state, not on the victim, to recoup monies they have lost or compensatory damages that they have been awarded.”


Ireland needs a more measurable, proactive approach to human trafficking, and a better understanding of the nuances involved, including the strategies used by perpetrators.

“There needs to be impact that is measurable through KPIs” to determine if initiatives are having the desired impact, according to Kohl. “There must be criminal accountability, there must be financial accountability, to deter traffickers,” he said, explaining that they have people who are willing to serve five years in prison for them for a fee. In relation to asset seizure outlined in the plan, he recommended making transparent the amount of goods or proceeds that have been seized, and then aiming to increase this each year.

Hyland said Ireland should follow the UN Directive on Human Trafficking, which states that ‘an investigation should be made, even if a victim doesn’t want to go ahead’, something which is common in gangland crime. “Most traffickers don't just traffick one person.”

Convictions can be increased through intelligence gathering, Hyland explained. “Things like manifests of aircraft and coaches, credit card usage etc. You can start to put a picture together that isn’t relying on the testimony of the victim.”


• Establishment of a new National Referral Mechanism, making it easier for victims to be identified and access support. It will ensure that victims can come forward to a range of agencies and not just An Garda Siochana as is currently the case. This is in recognition that victims may, due to experiences in their own countries, not trust police services.

• New and widespread training for all who may encounter victims of human trafficking across departments and state agencies. This will include the Border Management Unit, as well as health and social care professionals, and Civil Registration Services staff working in the HSE.

• Ongoing development of training, through NGOs, targeting frontline staff in industries such as hospitality, airline and shipping who may encounter trafficked individuals.

• Ensure effective anti-trafficking screening measures are in place at point of entry to the State.

• Establish dedicated accommodation for victims of trafficking.

• Expand the funding, use and awareness of cultural mediators and accompaniment services.

• Provide victims of trafficking with protection from deportation

• Provide exit pathways for individuals impacted by prostitution who may be vulnerable to trafficking for sexual exploitation.

• Continue to raise awareness through materials available in languages of recognised victims of human trafficking and making information available in healthcare and other settings.

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Human trafficking awareness training for Ireland’s security industry

The Private Security Authority (PSA) is the first statutory body to introduce mandated anti-child trafficking training for all security personnel licensed in Ireland, and it’s the first time that such training has been provided by the PSA outside of the core skills required by those operating in the security industry.

The new human trafficking awareness training programme, launched by Ireland’s Private Security Authority, will become mandatory for all those in the security industry who are seeking a PSA licence to work in the event security and security guarding sectors.

According to PSA Chief Executive Paul Scallan, the training programme focuses on “the hideous crime of child trafficking, and the security industry is uniquely placed to play an important role in the fight against these horrible crimes”.

Following the launch of the training module, which was developed for the PSA by *Mecpaths – the non-profit organisation which focuses specifically on the issue of child trafficking in Ireland – Scallan said that the nature of their

According to statistics released during EU Anti-Trafficking Day on 18 October 2023, on average, 7,000 victims of human trafficking are registered in the EU every year, while many more remain undetected.

work means that security personnel have access to public and restricted areas across the country, particularly at access points such as ports and airports.

“They are trained to identify people acting out of the ordinary or things that look out of the normal. These skills, which have been successfully used to combat criminality in other spheres, will now be used to assist in the battle against human trafficking.”


Mecpaths Training Manager Ann Mara said: “With the changes to the Anti-Human Trafficking legislation, the preparations and resource investments made by the PSA have reflected great leadership and foresight.”

She added that by virtue of this commitment, they have demonstrated a unique pledge to safeguarding children they may encounter through the course of their work from potential harm and exploitation.

The Head of Anti-Human Trafficking at the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) said that the prevention of human trafficking must go hand in hand with prosecution and victim protection. According to Dr Nusha Yonkova, the PSA initiative is an important prevention measure in the national fight against human trafficking. “We expect that mandatory training will deliver an important and far-reaching awareness dimension, in assisting workers in the private security sector to identify this clandestine crime, and possibly save human lives.”

*MECPATHS advocates for child safeguarding from trafficking through collaborative action, awareness raising and education, and facilitates workshops for frontline and emerging professionals across many disciplines including social work, healthcare, education and hospitality. For further information visit https://mecpaths.com

Pictured at the launch of the human trafficking awareness training module (l-r): MECPATHS Networks and Communications Manager JP O’Sullivan, and Training Manager Ann Mara, Paul Scallan, PSA Chief Executive, and Marina Botija Olmeda, IHREC.

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Report refers to Ireland as ‘unreliable security partner’

The issue of Ireland's neutrality, contribution to allied security and the under-resourcing of the Irish Defence Forces has been detailed in a new report, issued by the think tank Policy Exchange which has referred to Ireland as an “unreliable security partner” in relation national defence and cybersecurity.

The new report ‘Closing the Back Door - Rediscovering Northern Ireland's Role in British National Security’ sets out how the deteriorating threat landscape, and “persistent Irish security freeloading”, requires the UK to rediscover the strategic importance of Northern Ireland to its national security.

With the restoration of Stormont, following the publication of the Government’s command paper ‘Safeguarding the Union’, the report says the time is now right to focus on the wider issues surrounding BritishIrish security relations.

“Russia poses a maritime threat to the western approaches to the British Isles, through and around which much transatlantic critical maritime infrastructure passes. The UK also faces a back-door threat from the growing Iranian, Russian and Chinese presence in the Republic of Ireland, a mounting challenge for a chronically deficient Irish security and intelligence apparatus,” the report states.

It claims that Ireland’s Defence Forces and security apparatus remain entirely inadequate, the result of a Defence Budget of less than 0.5% of GDP since 2000. The report has called for the UK Government to expand its naval and air presence in Northern Ireland for maritime patrol missions against Russian intrusion. It also urges the UK and its regional partners to unite and up the ante in pressing Dublin to do its fair share for collective security.

To download the report visit https://policyexchange.org.uk/ publication/closing-the-backdoor/ to download the report.


Ireland’s Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell has said that the report’s detail about our cyber vulnerabilities highlighted major issues for foreign direct investment (FDI) and an ability to be neutral on the world stage.

“For decades past, the IDA succeeded in attracting an abundance of continuous FDI to Ireland. Any perceived negative sentiment, or lack of perceived stability in Ireland, from whatever source, would be a disrupter and disincentive to its smooth continuation,” the Senator outlined in a recent letter to members of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

“Our country lacks a commitment to national sovereignty, which requires providing a credible security umbrella on land, sea and air. I support our policy of neutrality; I don’t advocate our joining NATO.

“Ireland must become, for the first time since 1922, an honest, honourable and militarily resourced military neutral. Let us be a proper neutral like Austria, Switzerland, and former neutrals Finland and Sweden.”

Pointing to what he describes as the Government’s “failure” to deal with issues related to defence, Senator Craughwell added: “Ireland

has yet to produce its first-ever national security strategy most recently promised. For a supposed developed democracy this is flabbergasting. It’s two years since the Commission on the Defence Forces reported.

“Within 24 months, no tangible improvement or change in the Defence Force’s operational outputs has been achieved. The strength of all three services dwindled to a shameful 7,550 on 31 December 2023 - 2,000 below the current strength of 9,500. So much for the Commission’s lofty ambition of an allowed strength of 11,800.”

In relation to Ireland’s intelligence services, he said that the issues raised are irrefutable. “The view from the UK is shared across Europe and the western world. Security, as understood and practiced in functioning democracies, evades us.

“Our political leaders see no issue with a Canadian citizen overseeing Irish national security. Would an Irish citizen ever be tasked with overseeing Canadian foreign policy? Would a Belgian or Dutch national ever be tasked with leading the UK’s MI5 or MI6? The answer is a resounding ‘No’. Have our political leaders, ever heard of the Third-Party Rule in the world of intelligence?”

“Ireland has yet to produce its first-ever national security strategy” – Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell

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Public Access Defibs now stationed across Dublin

New Automatic External Defibrillators will now be located prominently outside each of Dublin Fire Brigade’s 14 fire stations across the city and county. In a significant step to enhance community safety, the defibrillators will be available 24/7 to provide immediate assistance especially during critical moments when every second counts.

The installation of the Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) across Dublin’s city and county was prompted by an incident outside Finglas Fire Station in early 2023.

Pauline Ryan suffered a cardiac arrest in Finglas village while she was a passenger in a car being driven by her sister, who had the presence of mind to pull into the fire station. At the time, the fire appliance, ambulance and all their medical equipment were out at another call, coincidentally, another cardiac arrest.

However, the district officer and a firefighter/paramedic were fortunately available and performed lifesaving CPR until their colleagues arrived from Phibsborough Fire Station, who then successfully defibrillated and resuscitated Pauline.

As the AEDs were simultaneously unveiled across all 14 locations across the city and county, Dublin Lord Mayor Daithí de Róiste said he was honoured to unveil the Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) at Finglas Fire Station, and to be part of the simultaneous launch of the other AEDs across the city. “The life-saving piece of equipment is a positive addition to the local community and to the people of Dublin,” he added.

Dublin’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer Greg O’Dwyer noted that DFB firefighters/paramedics and officers recognise the fire, rescue and medical role they provide in the wider community but also their closest neighbours to DFB’s 14 stations.

“We hope that these AEDs never have to be used, but we also hope that the installation of the AEDs provide some piece of mind and reassurance to our neighbours or commuters who pass our stations.”

Pauline, whose medical emergency prompted the installation of the AEDs, joined with the firefighters at the launch to mark international ‘Restart a Heart’ day last October. “Only for the quick actions of my sister, the two firefighters in Finglas Fire Station and their colleagues from Phibsborough,

I may not be here today. Knowing what I know now, I would encourage everyone from a young age to learn CPR. It is a life skill, literally,” she noted.

The AEDs are located outside each of the 14 fire stations in a heated secure box. Members of the public can access the defibs by calling 999/112 and stating their location. Simultaneously medical help will be dispatched, and guidance will be given over the phone.

By having these AEDs at the fire stations, Dublin Fire Brigade aims to bridge the gap between emergency services and the public fostering a sense of unity and co-operation within the capital city. Visit www.irishheart.ie for available AED and CPR courses.

In 2021 there were 2,900 Out-of-Hospital Cardiac (OHC) arrests nationwide; 19% in a public setting with 81% in a private setting. In 2022; 84% OHC arrests had bystander CPR attempted; 10% had defibrillation attempted prior to the arrival of EMS personnel.

Pictured at the unveiling of the AED for Fingal Fire Station (l-r): John Keogh, DFB’s Third Officer for Northside Operations; Lord Mayor Daithi de Roiste with heart attack survivor Pauline Ryan from Finglas and John McNally, District Officer, Finglas Fire Station.

€22.5 billion for health services in Budget 2024

This year's health budget aims to facilitate the continued delivery and expansion of quality, affordable healthcare services, with the €22.5bn allocation including a Health Resilience Fund to support service delivery in response to high inflation and increased patient demand among Ireland’s expanding and ageing population.

Announcing the budgetary measures for the healthcare sector for the year ahead, Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly said: “Patients must always be at the core of healthcare delivery, and Budget 2024 funding will continue to deliver targeted investment that provides patients with the right care in the right place and at the right time.

“It allows us to build on the progress of the past three years which have led to significantly reduced costs and increased capacity in our healthcare service. This record investment has provided more than 22,000 health and social care staff and more than 1,000 permanent beds since 2020.

“We’ve implemented several initiatives that remove cost as a barrier to healthcare including the abolition of all public hospital in-patient charges, the expansion of eligibility for GP visit cards, reduction of the monthly Drug Payment Scheme threshold and the introduction of the free contraception scheme.

“The 2024 Health Budget is reflective of our expanding and

ageing population and the increased impact on healthcare resources. It will allow the further expansion of capacity, including opening and staffing six new surgical hubs, as part of a generous package to tackle waiting lists.” Minister Donnelly said he was also allocating €36.3m to a package of surge measures to ensure Ireland’s health service can respond to times of increased demand for urgent and emergency care.


Budget 2024 also contains several health promotion and prevention measures through the Healthy Ireland programme as well as funding for the continued implementation of the National Drugs Strategy.

Minister for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Hildegarde Naughton said: “Our budget for the programme in 2023 was just over €14m, and I have secured an additional €2.3m for 2024, bringing the total to €16.5m. This represents an increase of 16%.

“This year core funding for our Drug and Alcohol Taskforces and Section 39 organisations increased by €3.5m, with €1.5m in funding for the


first time towards a drug and alcohol awareness programme. Preventative education is paramount in our fight against the misuse of drugs in Ireland.

“For 2024, we will deliver groundbreaking services never provided before. They include dual diagnosis hubs to support the recovery of young people with drug dependency and mental health issues. In addition, there will be dedicated funding for services for people on the road to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, to support their integration into everyday life through housing, employment, education and other supports.”

In the last two years funding for drug and alcohol taskforces has increased by almost €10m. In total the State will invest more than €145m on drug and alcohol addiction services during 2024.


The 2024 Health Budget also sees spending on mental health rise to almost €1.3bn – the fourth consecutive year that an increase has been provided to support mental health services.

Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler described the funding for mental health services as “a leap forward” in terms of tackling youth mental health and the continued roll-out of ‘Sharing the Vision’, the Government’s national mental health policy.

“This year’s mental health budget is primarily focused around improving supports available to young people, improved access and the reduction in waiting lists for services.”

For the Older Persons Budget, a total of €2.621bn has been secured, including increases for nursing homes, Meals on Wheels services as well as for weekend activity clubs for people with young-onset dementia.

Minister Butler added: “Budget 2024 is the largest allocation ever for older person services. We have the highest life expectancy in the EU, as determined by the World Health Organisation. Investment in day care, Meals on Wheels, dementia supports, home support and nursing home care has continued in this Budget. In 2024 we expect to deliver 22 million hours of home support. This is more than has ever been delivered before.”

“ ”
We’ve implemented several initiatives that remove cost as a barrier to healthcare including the abolition of all public hospital inpatient charges, expansion of eligibility for GP visit cards, reduction of monthly Drug Payment Scheme threshold…
Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Health

• €500m to tackle waiting lists, including opening and staffing six new surgical hubs.

• Expansion of the free contraception scheme to include women aged 17-31.

• Increased funding for mental health by completing the staffing of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) teams.

• Increased funding for digital health.

• The first full-year programme of publicly funded assisted human reproduction services including IVF.

• €36.3m package of measures to respond to periods of heightened demand across acute and community services.

EMERGENCY SERVICES IRELAND 78 Bralca Coldstore Limited Frozen & Chilled Storage, Supply Chain Provider Unit 21 Newbridge Industrial Estate, Newbridge, Co. Kildare Tel: 045 486 777 • Fax: 045 486 778 Mobile: 087 803 4222 Email: Sylvia@bralcacoldstore.ie 250222_4C_Bralca_JM_FC 22.04.indd 2 03/12/2020 15:33 Best wishes to the Emergency Services from Tracey Edwards, Principal, Sinéad Kehoe and Bridget Cadogan, Deputy Principals, Staff and Students in Ramsgrange Community School. Tracey Edwards, Principal, Ramsgrange Community School, Ramsgrange, New Ross, Co. Wexford. E: rcs.office@rcswexford.ie Ph: 051 389 211 www.ramsgrangecommunityschool.ie

Project to establish new criminal justice research partnership

A project to establish a new criminal justice research partnership, which aims to embed a culture of interdisciplinary open research in criminal justice in Ireland, is being funded by the National Open Research Forum (NORF).

The new project at Maynooth University is being led by Dr Ian Marder, MU’s Assistant Professor in Criminology and Co-Deputy Director of the Research Centre for Criminology at the School of Law and Criminology.

Dr Marder described it as a huge opportunity for Ireland’s research, policy and practice communities to come together and identify “what we can agree on, and where we want criminal justice research in Ireland to go. Research partnerships are burgeoning, so it’s the right time to reflect on the big picture, build relationships and establish shared principles and priorities”.

With €75,798 of funding coming from the Higher Education Authority’s National Open Research Forum (NORF) the project represents nearly 40 organisations, who will form a ‘Researcher-Policymaker-Practitioner Partnership’.

Partners include universities and technological universities, criminal justice policymakers, agencies and oversight bodies, third sector justice services, civil society and minority advocacy bodies, and research infrastructure.

The partnership will seek to determine collectively how to co-ordinate and embed a culture of open research among criminal justice researchers and in the criminal justice sector in a locally appropriate way.

The project will involve a programme of open engagement and research, with partners set to meet three times this year to decide collectively how to advance the uptake of open research. They aim to co-create the principles of engagement, to investigate the sector’s open research needs, to explore international best practice in criminal justice open research partnerships, and to co-create a national open research agenda, priorities and action plan.


The project is being co-ordinated by a consortium that includes Maynooth University, Dublin City University (DCU), South East Technological University (SETU), Technological University (TU) Dublin and the University of Limerick.

Ben Ryan, Head of Criminal Justice Policy in the Department of Justice, welcomed the initiative, and said that the partnership will provide a great opportunity to further embed and expand upon research partnerships already in place.

Dr Fionnuala Brennan, Lecturer at SETU’s School of Humanities, and Project Consortium member, said: “A focus of our work is to deliver high-quality, research-led teaching for all our students, including recruit prison officers. Being involved in collaborative open research will

inform and enhance innovation on our programmes and help bring current thinking and practice to the sector, faster and more effectively.”


Shawna Coxon, Deputy Commissioner of An Garda Síochána, said: “The National Open Research Forum project will bring together the academic community and criminal justice sector practitioners to work on some of our most difficult challenges. In partnership, we will explore best practices to reduce victimisation and support vulnerable persons. It’s an exciting opportunity to co-create a better future together.”

Donna Creaven, Director of Corporate Services with the Irish Prison Service, said that research evidence is very important to the development of criminal justice decisionmaking. “Through well-designed and implemented research, we can better explore the impact of policies, programmes, and daily practices that improve our societal impact and how the justice eco-system works for the betterment of those in our care and society,” she added.

Dympna Kenny, General Manager of Victim Support at Court, described the project as a great opportunity for such a broad group of stakeholders and researchers to collaborate. “The information sharing across the group will be beneficial in working towards achieving the project’s goal – to embed a culture of open research among Ireland’s criminal justice researchers and its criminal justice sector,” she noted.

Helen Hall, the Policing Authority’s Chief Executive, said: ‘Open, collaborative and transparent research has the potential to bring considerable benefits to all agencies striving to build safer and stronger communities, and we look forward to actively engaging on this.”

For organisations who wish to be represented on the project, email ian.marder@mu.ie for more information.


Road Safety Scheme

Rolled out for students

A hard-hitting road safety initiative is being rolled out to transition year students across Wexford and other counties across the country. The ‘Just 1 Life’ programme, run by the Wexford Rotary Club in partnership with Wexford County Council, aims to increase road safety awareness among young people to clamp down on the rising road traffic deaths.

Over the last 17 years, more than 20,000 students have taken part in the road safety programme in Wexford alone, with a further 10,000 students participating in the initiative in Kildare.

The ‘shock and awe’ road safety programme, which originated in Australia is also operating in a further eight counties across the country, including Kerry, Laois and Sligo. Rotary Ireland has said that expanding programme on a national basis will save lives.

Up to 460 pupils from Loreto Wexford, Presentation Wexford, Selskar College and St Peter’s College attended the launch on 5 December 2023 at Wexford’s National Opera House. The campaign is poised to reach over 2,200 students from 24 schools across Wexford upon completion in the early part of this year.

Calodagh McCumiskey from Wexford Rotary Club said that feedback to the programme from students, educators, Gardaí and medical emergency teams has been “overwhelmingly” positive.

“The key to the success of ‘Just 1 Life’ is that it enables us to connect with teenagers at a key stage in their development. Most participants are transition year students who will not yet have sat behind the wheel of a car. The programme allows us to show them that while driving can be hugely beneficial it comes with a host of responsibilities.”

Individuals who have directly experienced road traffic accidents, as well as members of the

emergency services and consultants who deal with the outcomes of road traffic accidents on a regular basis, are invited to share their experiences with students.

“Hard-hitting testimonies of people involved in accidents or those of emergency responders often have the greatest impact on students and help them to make better and more informed choices regarding road safety. Through these presentations and relevant videos, we highlight to students the stark and often tragic results of inappropriate driving or road use behaviour.”

Kenny Fisher, District Governor of Rotary Ireland, said the past year has seen a sharp rise in road traffic

fatalities, particularly among young people. “We believe a lot of young drivers – and their passengers –currently do not have an awareness or appreciation of the potential lifechanging consequences of such accidents. Many young drivers often see themselves as invincible and we need to show them just how dangerous and misplaced is that perception of invincibility.

“We have seen how well ‘Just 1 Life’ works in Wexford and other counties such as Kildare and Sligo. We have a template which works and are very keen to explore with the Government ways in which we could expand the programme and make it an integral part of the secondary school curriculum.”

Pictured at the launch of ‘Just 1 Life’ programme (l-r): Gardaí Elaine Farrell, Anne Quirke and Richenda Sinnott with Wexford’s John Browne, Minister of State at the Department of Justice. Minister Browne and Garda Farrell have both lost their own sisters in road traffic accidents.

Is Europe prepared for the next pandemic?

How can the European Union be better prepared for the next health pandemic? This is a question that the European Parliament has sought to answer since 2022, whilst also reviewing lessons learned in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, according to Irish MEP Deirdre Clune and Spanish MEP Dolors Montserrat.

The Covid pandemic was an unprecedented global crisis, with tragic and deeply regretful consequences.

First and foremost, people lost precious loved ones who died due to the virus. Across the world, people had to stay apart to protect each other, causing enormous emotional distress and isolation.

Our health and care workers showed incredible dedication in working tirelessly on the frontline, sometimes at great personal risk. Numerous businesses were severely hit, and some shut down completely.

Several years ago, such a scenario would have been unimaginable. Yet, when we reflect on what has happened, we are sure that the EU did what it could, with the information and resources available at the time, to limit the worst impact of the Corona virus.

“We want to agree on a roadmap for the future of Europe capable of facing any threat not only to our health, but also to our security, our welfare and lifestyle model.”

The leadership, investment and determination by the EU in boosting the urgent research and development of vaccines, as well as jointly managing the procurement and distribution of vaccines at Union level, did save millions of lives over the past three years.

However, there were areas where the EU could have done better, and hard lessons must be learned in the aftermath. It is essential that the EU takes a deep look at what can be done to ensure we are better prepared for the future.

Our key recommendation is that the EU must become more

Deirdre Clune MEP (Ireland South/Fine Gael) is a member of the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee.

self-sufficient in health matters, such as in producing medicines. It needs to avoid dependency on third countries. It needs to increase its production capacity while also diversifying its global supply chain and ensuring better coordination of national health strategies.


This is what we need to have on hand when we face the next crisis. The reindustrialisation of Europe with a competitive pharmaceutical sector will further strengthen the EU's open strategic autonomy in health. This must be our blueprint to avert the repetition of past mistakes.

It is crucial for the EU to set clear rules – rules that mean we don’t need to close schools or parliaments for a long time again. We don’t need to damage European businesses with wild, unexpected restrictions. We must not put the most vulnerable in a situation where they feel even weaker, even more scared, and unable to understand the steps that his or her country is taking.

For this reason, it is also very important to learn from the spread of disinformation, which had an

even more devastating impact during the crisis. We need enhanced protection against disinformation and misinformation campaigns, including against cyber-attacks targeting essential services.

The European Parliament issued its list of recommendations. We will

continue to work to ensure that most of the suggestions are in place as quickly as possible. We want to agree on a roadmap for the future of Europe – a Europe capable of facing any threat not only to our health, but also to our security, our welfare and lifestyle model.

We need enhanced protection against disinformation and misinformation campaigns, including against cyberattacks targeting essential services.” Dolors Montserrat MEP (Spain/Partido Popular) is a former Health Minister and author of the European Parliament's report on the COVID-19 pandemic.


Over 23,000 ambulance journeys have been avoided over the past five months alone in Scotland, due to the Integrated Clinical Hub (ICH), which was rolled out by the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) in December 2022.

The hub, co-located with the SAS ambulance control centres in the west, north and east of Scotland, is made up of a multidisciplinary team of clinical advisors, advanced practitioners and GPs.

It provides assessments for all patients who are initially triaged as non-immediately life threatening and may benefit from a further virtual consultation and referral to other services in the community, rather than unnecessary trips to A&E. The latest data shows that around 71,000 patients have been assessed by the ICH since August 2023.

Michael Dickson, Chief Executive of Scottish Ambulance Service, said: “For those patients who require an ambulance, such as immediate life-threatening conditions, we will always dispatch the most appropriate resource.”

However, he said that the data shows that nearly 50% of SAS patients do not require transfer to A&E and can be better treated in other ways, such as in the home, in the community or through specialist services.

“The ICH plays a vital part in carrying out advanced assessment of these patients to identify their clinical needs to ensure they receive the best possible response for their

condition. The hub is a vital tool in helping us free up vital capacity to attend our sickest patients whilst also reducing the demand at the A&E front door by utilising regional and national pathway alternatives,” the SAS chief noted.


The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) is now part of a national programme to test zero-emissions emergency response vehicles, and the electric vehicle (EV) trials will be shortly due to shift up a gear soon.

Covering six counties, the 7,500sqm of EEAST’s operational region ranges from cities to rural areas and rugged coastline. For some of the 6.2 million residents, an emergency journey to a cardiac centre can mean a 70-mile trip, with the fleet of 500 vehicles racking up 16 million miles a year.

As well as the significant fuel costs, this causes inevitable impact on the environment, so EEAST has taken a keen interest in zero-emissions technology and has been an early adopter of electric vehicles (EV). It has used alternative fuel vehicles (such as the Nissan Leaf) successfully in support services for some years.

In 2022, EEAST was selected to be part of NHS England’s Pathfinder scheme, trialling new technology to help the NHS reach its net zero carbon emissions pledge by 2045. It was awarded £250,000 to buy three fully electric response vehicles and provide charging infrastructure.

Several different EVs were tested before two Skoda Enyaq sport line models and a Vauxhall Vivaro people carrier were chosen. The Vivaro is in use in a co-responding scheme with Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

To date, EEAST has focused all trials on non-patientcarrying vehicles, and the next stage will be to use this

learning process to decide how electric double-staffed ambulances could be trialled.

Initial ambulance trials will include safety processes such as shadowing (i.e. an empty electric ambulance shadows a diesel vehicle to observe its performance under emergency driving conditions) and later reverse shadowing (an electric ambulance carries a patient but is shadowed by a diesel vehicle).

The Integrated Clinical Hub is co-located with ambulance control centres in the west, north and east of Scotland. Skoda’s new Enyaq – which has been in frontline operational duty as a rapid response vehicle since December 2023 – is now on trial with the East of England Ambulance Service.


Coastguard, fire, mountain rescue and other agencies recently gathered on Lindisfarne off the coast of Northumberland in the north east of England to test tactics to deal with wildfires and protect this area in the coming months.

Lindisfarne, a tidal island also known as Holy Island. It has been the focus of multiple campaigns over the past year to increase the safety of residents, visitors, and businesses in the face of incidents such wildfires.

Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service teamed up with HM Coastguard, Natural England, and the North East Ambulance Service last year to make a variety of plans to access the island during an incident. Building on this, partners came together recently to exercise and strengthen their combined wildfire response to emergency call-outs.

“We’ve seen an increase in coastal wildfires in the past few years and it’s become apparent that a wide array of tactics is needed to deal with ecologically sensitive environments such as those found at Lindisfarne, which could provide a potential obstacle to us during any incident,” noted Rob Stacey, Wildfire Lead at Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service.

Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve, one of the largest national nature reserves in the country, is of particular importance due to its location as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Northumberland National

Park Mountain Rescue team and the Salvation Army joined the exercise, training together to learn about each other’s capabilities in responding to a wildfire incident.

(Source: http://emergencyservicestimes.com)



The new Chief Executive Officer of Police Care UK, for serving and veteran police officers and staff, volunteers, and their families who have suffered any physical or psychological harm due to policing, wants to make the charity a leading force for change in tackling the impact of trauma in UK policing.

The charity’s biggest area of support concerning the complex mental health needs relating to police trauma. Research by Police Care UK has shown that one in five of the police workforces live with a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the appointment of Renata Gomes as the new CEO signals a new chapter for the charity.

Gomes was previously Chief Scientific Officer with Blind Veterans UK Group and brings with her nearly a decade of experience in military and veterans’ health and wellbeing, as well as expertise in scientific research, health economics and business management.

“I want Police Care UK to become the powerhouse for understanding police trauma and restoring lives through evidence-based research and innovation,” said Gomes, who started her new role on 11 March.

“By doing so, we can make fundamental change to the debilitating impact of trauma in policing. This role comes with great responsibility - police often have lifelong careers and live where they work, so ensuring they have a strong state of health and wellbeing is vital."

Police Care UK is independent of the police service and is

funded entirely by donations and fundraising, with no money provided by the government or the forces for its work. For further information visit


Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service and partners during a recent training exercise. Police Care UK’s new CEO Renata Gomes wants to make the charity a leading force for change in tackling the impact of trauma in UK policing.


The RNLI celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, and its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 144,000 lives at sea since the rescue organisation was first founded in 1824.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to be at the helm of the RNLI, now approaching five years, and to see the charity reach its bicentenary,” noted Mark Dowie, RNLI Chief Executive, at the official 200th birthday celebrations on Monday 4 March.

“For a charity to have survived 200 years based on the time and commitment of volunteers, and the sheer generosity of the public donating to fund it, is truly remarkable. It is through the courage and dedication of its incredible people that the RNLI has survived the test of time,

For more information on the RNLI’s 200th anniversary visit https://rnli.org/200

including tragic losses, funding challenges, two World Wars and, more recently, a global pandemic.”

Throughout its bicentenary year, the charity will run a series of events and activities to remember its important history and celebrate the modern lifesaving service it is today, while hoping to inspire generations of future lifesavers and supporters.

Exhibitions, outdoor events, special services of thanksgiving, partnerships and education programmes are just some of the activities which will be taking place across the UK and Ireland. There will also be a special 200th anniversary retail range available through the RNLI’s shops and online.

The charity operates 238 lifeboat stations and has seasonal lifeguards on over 240 lifeguarded beaches around the UK and Ireland. It designs and builds its own lifeboats, in addition to running domestic and international water safety programmes.

“The volunteering ethos at the heart of the RNLI is what makes the charity so special – volunteers have given their time and commitment over the past two centuries, as they continue to do today,” Dowie added.

“This year we remember the achievements and commitment of all those who have been part of the RNLI family over the past two centuries; we celebrate the worldclass lifesaving service, based on our 200 years of learning, expertise and innovation, and we hope to inspire future generations of lifesavers and supporters who will take the RNLI into its next century and beyond,” the RNLI chief noted.


Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) has commissioned a team of researchers at the University of Kent to conduct a study on how actions or inactions may impact the psychology of those rescued from road traffic collisions.

It is believed that 16.8 per cent of people involved in a traumatic event will potentially suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It is completely unknown how many onlookers and bystanders have also been exposed to trauma from witnessing the RTC and/or extrication. And little is known about the point at which PTSD may be triggered during a traumatic event, or whether ongoing sustained trauma soon after a rescue (known as the hypersensitive phase, when response to threat is heightened) can increase the likelihood of PTSD.

By interviewing those rescued from RTCs by fire crews within Kent, researchers hope to identify when and how rescue processes impact the casualty and maintain it’s the first time that casualties themselves will provide an account of their psychological experience at the hands of the fire and rescue service.

Using these findings, the researchers at the University of Kent aim to implement evidence-based changes in the response rescue at an RTC, to improve the psychological experience of RTC casualties.

They claim that the negative psychological impact that a traumatic event can potentially have on the long-term quality of life post incident for casualties is huge. The NHS current waiting times suggest that 75% of those requiring therapy should have an appointment within six weeks of referral and 95% of those within 18 weeks.



The Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, the University of Birmingham and the US Department of Defence will lead a major research programme in a bid to transform the way concussion is identified and managed.

Concussion has been declared a major global public health problem, with 1.4 million hospital visits due to head injury annually in England and Wales. Some 85% of these are classified as concussion and it is also estimated that up to 9.5% of UK military personnel in a combat role are diagnosed with concussion every year.

The seven-year programme, under a contract provided by the US Department of Defense (US DoD) with potential funding of $15.5m, will analyse blood and saliva, mental health, vision, balance and sleep, and measure their ability to predict long-term complications from concussion (i.e. mild Traumatic Brain Injury – mTBI).

Some 890 people, aged 18 to 60, will take part in the study, as researchers measure effectiveness of various methods to predict outcomes of concussion after six, 12 and 24 months. It can be caused by physical impact to the head through accident, injury, sport, or even from shockwaves following explosions.

Major General Timothy Hodgetts CB CBE KHS, Surgeon General of the UK Armed Forces, commented: “UK Defence has funded the initiation of this research, but it would not be possible to complete without the support from US DoD. This is a prime example of our longstanding bilateral research collaboration where we have a common purpose to address a significant and shared clinical problem. This study will be definitive in

helping us identify those who need the most help and resources following a very common injury.”

Researchers will use the UK TBI Research Network to recruit both civilian and military participants to the programme. The study will be supported by Birmingham Health Partners and University Hospital Birmingham, as well as a range of research institutions across the UK.

The research programme will bring together neuroscientists, psychologists, sport and exercise scientists, software developers and statisticians – coordinated by Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit. It will involve military patients and expertise from the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre Stanford Hall and Royal Centre for Defence Medicine.

Prof Alex Sinclair, University of Birmingham’s research leader, said that concern around the long-term effects of concussion is mounting. “Even a minor injury to the head can cause concussion, which leads to brain injury with potentially serious effects on both immediate and longterm health. The research programme will identify new ways to accurately predict whether concussion patients will develop long-term complications.”


Ulster University criminology lecturer Dr Jonny Byrne, who was recently appointed as Northern Ireland’s independent reviewer of national justice and national security arrangements, will play a key role in providing confidence that the policing and legal system are using their powers fairly and proportionately.

The independent reviewer’s role is set out within the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007. Dr Byrne is currently a lecturer in criminology and criminal justice in the School of Criminology, Social Policy and Politics at Ulster University. He lectures on issues relating to policing and security, countering violent extremism and psychology within the criminal justice system.

He has completed several research projects on public attitudes to peace walls, paramilitary violence, young people’s participation in political violence, community experiences of public order policing in Northern Ireland, bonfires, and the manipulations of commemorations and celebrations in a contested society.

He was appointed by Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris, with effect from 1 February, and replaced Prof Marie Breen Smyth. (Source: Irish Legal News)



Public awareness and understanding of the role played by the emergency number ‘112’ varies significantly across Europe, which has served to highlight a crucial gap in emergency preparedness, according to a recent report from the European Emergency Number Association (EENA).

The EENA report, which was released on 11 February to mark ‘112 Day 2024’ delved into how different European countries can improve in terms of their emergency response, strengths and adherence to mandatory EU legislation.

Every year on 11 February, Europe observes ‘112 Day’ –dedicated to raising awareness about the pan-European emergency number available free of charge, 24/7, across Europe. Only 41% of European citizens know that ‘112’ is the European emergency number, according to the Barometer report on 112.

The EENA report aims to foster a deeper understanding of the complexities and challenges faced in aligning national emergency systems with EU standards, and how these efforts impact overall public safety.

The report offers insights into how countries can enhance both the efficiency of their emergency services and the

public's ability to access these essential resources effectively.

It highlights the importance of keeping track of where individual countries are with their emergency communications implementation. The report notes that during natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or other emergencies, the ability to communicate with the public rapidly and effectively can be the difference between life and death.



Mental illness is now costing health services more than cancer and heart disease, and a panel of experts from around the world will explore solutions for the escalation of mental health problems during an online conference on 24 April.

In the last three years The Children’s Society reports that the likelihood of a young person having a mental health issue has increased by 50 per cent. One in six children aged 5-16 are now likely to have a mental health problem, which has been described as a ‘global brain health emergency’ by the European

Federation of Neuroscience Societies.

Antidepressant prescriptions are close to 100 million within the last year alone, representing a 70% increase in the past five years.

The conference will be chaired by spokesperson on nutrition and mental health Patrick Holford, founder of both the charitable foundation ‘Food for Brain Foundation’ and the Institute for Optimum Nutrition

“The growth in mental illness in children and adults is not sustainable. In some poorer areas one in two women are now on antidepressants; close to one million in the UK have dementia. By 2080, one in three children will have severe neurodevelopment impairment with major functional and communication deficits,” he noted.

“We need a united and progressive understanding of what’s driving this brain drain to enable the right solutions. We need governments to wake up to the reality of this cerebral tsunami otherwise we are heading for an ideocracy. The ‘Upgrade Your Brain’ conference brings all the pieces together with an unparalleled team of experts. All health care practitioners, and anyone in mental health and education, needs to be there,” Halford added.

download the EENA report
To register online visit foodforthebrain.org/uybconference
visit https://eena.org


The World Rescue Challenge 2024 will now take place on 5-9 November, on Portugal’s Terceira Island in the Azores, instead of the scheduled dates of 24-28 September.

The World Rescue Organisation and Portugal’s Associação Nacional de Salvamento e Desencarceramento (ANSD) agreed to change the dates, having considered that postponing the WRC will have more advantages than disadvantages for the World Rescue Organisation (WRO), WRO members, sponsors, teams, etc, particularly in terms of costs.

Since November is outside the main tourist season, they both deemed that therefore accommodation and travel will be more reasonable, while the weather conditions are expected to be better at that time of year. The decision to defer the dates for WRC2024 was taken by the WRO and ANSD WRC2024 Committee on 20 December 2023.

For details and updates on World Rescue Challenge 2024 visit https://www.wrescue.org/


The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Europe have jointly developed the European Respiratory Virus Surveillance Summary (ERVISS) for the early detection of respiratory viruses, circulating in the EU/EEA and WHO European region.

By providing a summary of the epidemiological and virological situation for respiratory virus infections, ERVISS is supporting public health decision-makers to take timely, well-informed decisions to limit the impact on healthcare systems and the wider public. Where available, ERVISS also presents laboratory testing and virus characterisation data for circulating pathogens, such as determining

Testing must now be carried out for a range of respiratory viruses, including influenza, RSV and Coronavirus 2.

virus type/subtype/strain, susceptibility to antivirals and similarity to available vaccines.

SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus 2) demonstrated that novel respiratory pathogens with pandemic potential may emerge at any time, and the co-circulation of respiratory viruses can put heavy pressure on healthcare systems.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, surveillance activities for respiratory infections in the EU/EEA largely centred around the monitoring of influenza virus circulation. However, the pandemic led to many countries either expanding their existing respiratory infection surveillance systems or developing new ones.

Over the past year, there has been a concerted effort to transition from unsustainable mass testing approaches applied during the acute phase of the pandemic, to an integrated respiratory virus surveillance approach capable of monitoring multiple pathogens.

The aim has been to leverage some of the improvements to surveillance systems at country level, and to develop a standard approach to jointly monitor influenza, RSV and SARS-CoV-2, as these viruses are expected to co-circulate in the coming years.

Within the EU/EEA and European region, countries have been asked to strengthen ‘syndromic surveillance’ of patients presenting with respiratory symptoms to primary and secondary care, reporting information from representative sites on a weekly basis.

Amongst those that present with symptoms at such sites, WHO and ECDC request that testing be carried out for a range of respiratory viruses, including influenza, RSV and SARS-CoV-2. This information is now presented in the European Respiratory Virus Surveillance Summary.

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