Emergency Services support Bank Holiday Road Safety campaign

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Emergency Services are supporting this weekend’s road safety campaign to coincide with the June Bank Holiday weekend. Gardai, the Road Safety Authority and Local Authority Road Safety Officers are appealing to drivers to safe lives by reducing speed and to always drive at a speed appropriate to all the prevailing conditions.

Nationally, over 70,000 speeding offences have already been detected in 2015. Nearly 80% of those detections were for speeds between 10 and 29 km/h over the posted speed limit. A further 10% were in excess of 30 km/h over the posted speed limit.

Figures show that the June Bank Holiday has consistently been the starting point for what is traditionally the most dangerous period on Ireland’s roads – summertime. In the last five years 256 people have died in June, July and August. Over the next three months it is possible therefore those 51 lives could be lost in summer time crashes on the nation’s roads.

Ms. Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said, “People assume that there are more risks in the wintertime because of the poor weather, poor road conditions and more hours of darkness. But the opposite is true. Summertime is more dangerous. Probably because there are no obvious dangers, the weather is fine and days brighter. So we relax our guard. From the June Bank Holiday weekend onwards we really do need to have road safety at the top of our minds. Cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists are most at risk and drivers really do need to keep their wits about them, slow down and always be ready to react.”

Chief Superintendent Mark Curran, Garda National Traffic Bureau said, “We know excessive or inappropriate speed is the main contributory factor in road traffic collisions. If it goes wrong for you on the road, the greater the speed at which you crash, the more severe the consequences will be. Already there have been in excess of 70,000 drivers detected speeding in 2015, with the vast majority travelling far in excess of what is legally permitted including one driver detected travelling at nearly 200 km/h . This is incredibly dangerous and totally unacceptable. Please help us to make the summer months ahead, what is traditionally a high risk period on the roads, a safe and enjoyable one for all road users. Reduce speed, drive to all the prevailing conditions, and watch out for all other road users.”

In Kildare, Gardai, Fire and Ambulance personnel have re-visited a previous campaign to support the local road safety initiative ‘Speeding Kills’ to coincide with this weekend’s campaign. Kildare County Council’s Road Safety Officer Declan Keogh said “The June Bank Holiday weekend is probably one of the busiest of them all, therefore, that in itself makes it that more dangerous n the roads with the extra traffic volumes. We are appealing to drivers to drive within the speed limit, adjust your speed accordingly and overall, reduce your speed while driving. Motorists driving at excessive speeds have killed so many people over the years, so the message is, Speeding Kills – Slow Down”.

Top Photo: L-R: Martin Dunne, Director, HSE National Ambulance Service, Niall O’ Riordan, Snr. Ass. Chief Fire Officer, Kildare Fire Service and Garda Inspector Patsy Glennon, Kildare Garda Division. (File Photo)

Meath Fire Service puts the wheels in motion for Charity

Meath County Fire & Rescue Service is the first group of emergency service personnel in Ireland to participate in the ‘Race Around Ireland’ event, which, in its seventh year running, is regarded as one of the toughest cycling challenges in the world. It takes racers on a 2,150km journey past some of the most stunning scenery in Ireland.

The team comprises of eight personnel and a back room support team of Fire-fighters, Paramedics and Friends that will have various roles such as crew support, drivers, medics and not forgetting a chef!.

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L-R ,Richie Faulkner Navan ,Steve McManus Kells, Thomas Nelson, Kells, Gary Ayton Trim, SACFO Barry Quinn, Kells Staton Officer Kevin Flanagan, Matt Smith, Navan and Brian Roger, Navan Photo Courtesy: Meath County Fire & Rescue Service.

The route will take you past Newgrange, The Causeway Coast, Malin Head, The Cliffs of Moher, The Ring of Kerry, Mizen Head, the Garden County of Wicklow and back to Navan in County Meath. it is hoped the challenge will be completed within within 96 hours.

Speaking to Emergency Times on behalf of the team, Navan Fire-fighter Richie Faulkner said “We have made this a charity event with the proceeds going to Louth/Meath branches of Down Syndrome and SOSAD (save our sons and daughters). The race in its seventh year will be the first time a team of emergency service personnel have entered the race and the first time the team have taken on a challenge like this”.

The team are always looking for support and donations can be made via sponsorship cards or direct to the Meath Fire Blazers bank account. To find out more about the event, please contact Richie Faulkner on 086-8143529 or Matt Smith 083-1066457

You can follow the team on Twitter and Facebook @ Meath Fire Blazers.

Garda Memorial Day 2015

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The Annual Garda Memorial Day for members of An Garda Síochána killed in the line of duty took place at the Dubhlinn Gardens, Dublin Castle at 12 noon today Saturday the 16th May.

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Garda Commissioner Noirin O’ Sullivan was joined by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Ms Frances Fitzgerald TD as well as many of the family members of Garda members who are on the roll of honour. 

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LÉ Eithne departs to assist Mediterranean Humanitarian Crisis

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An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D. , the Minister for Defence Mr. Simon Coveney T.D. and Deputy Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Rear Admiral Mark Mellett joined the ship company of the LÉ Eithne in the Naval Base, Haulbowline this morning to mark the early despatch of L.É. EITHNE to the Mediterranean. At the ceremony, the Minister stated that “The humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean is of great concern to Ireland. The quick response by the Irish Government in deciding to despatch a Naval Vessel highlights our commitment to assist with efforts to prevent further tragedy and loss of life at sea.”

Following Government approval earlier this week and agreement with the Italian authorities, the L.É. EITHNE, with a crew of sixty-eight (68) personnel of the Permanent Defence Force, will depart the Naval Base in Haulbowline this morning, 16th May 2015, to assist the Italian authorities in humanitarian search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

The Minister further stated that “The despatch of an Irish naval vessel represents a tangible and valuable Irish national contribution to assisting the Italian authorities in the humanitarian search and rescue operation.”

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The role of the Irish Naval vessel will be to provide a search and rescue capability and to undertake humanitarian rescue operations at sea in the Mediterranean. Assistance to persons in distress at sea will be provided in accordance with the applicable provisions of international conventions governing search and rescue situations. A Naval Service vessel will be deployed in the Mediterranean for a period of up to six months over the summer period, subject to the operational demands and requirements arising in the theatre of operations.

The Minister concluded by saying “I wish to commend the Defence Forces on their efficient operational and logistical planning for this deployment. I want to wish each and every crew member of L.É. EITHNE, under the command of Commander Pearse O’Donnell, a safe and successful mission. You will be in our thoughts throughout the duration of your tour of duty.”

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About the LÉ EITHNE

L.É. EITHNE was built in Ireland as a Helicopter Patrol Vessel and was commissioned on 7th December 1984 . The ship’s crew are mostly in their mid twenties, they come from all over Ireland. They have a wide range of skills including Telegraphists, Engine Room Artificers and Cooks etc. High proportions are technicians, but the age old skills of Seamanship are still required, irrespective of technological advances. 25% of the ship’s company are seamen. The ship itself is the ultimate in medium sized patrol vessels with a high degree of capability and comfort.

Since January 2015, it is estimated that the crisis in the Mediterranean has claimed the lives of over 1,700 refugees and migrants. During the past four months alone, some 40,000 people made crossings to Italy and Greece.

The statutory authority for the despatch of a contingent or member of the Permanent Defence Force for humanitarian operations, under the authority of the Government, is set out in section 3 (1) (f) of the Defence (Amendment) Act 2006. The legal provisions in relation to the deployment of a Naval Vessel are limited to a deployment on a humanitarian mission.

2015 Chief Fire Officers Association Conference

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The Chief Fire Officers two day conference was held in Tullamore County Offaly. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Emerging Trends, and the challenges to the Fire Service’.  In its 58th year running, this is Offaly County Council’s second time to host the event. The first occasion was in 1998 under the then Offaly Fire Chief and Conference Secretary Derry O’ Ceilleachair. Seventeen years later Derry’s son Eoin brings the conference back to County Offaly.

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Report By: Declan Keogh
Delegates heard from twelve keynote speakers over the two days, on various topics such as: The Local Government Change Programme, Major Emergency Management in Ireland, Crowd Safety at Large Outdoor events, Event Licensing in Ireland and Northern Ireland, Health and Safety, Quality Assurance systems and also Developments in Copenhagen, the Danish Fire Service, and the Current and Future Trends for Fire & Rescue response in Spain. There were also three ‘Tech Talks’ from different companies.

CFOA Chairman Pat Fleming: ‘More funding required’

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In his opening address, Chairman of the Chief Fire Officers Association, Pat Fleming referred to the progress made by the fire service throughout Ireland over the past year. He also called on the Government to increase the level of funding being made available to the Local Authorities.

He said’ “Current expenditure by Local Authorities on fire and rescue services is €267m per annum. Proper station facilities are essential for maintaining the delivery of a fire service. Fire appliances are the work horses of the services and it is regrettable that there has been no fleet capital funding provided in recent years.”

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Speaking to Emergency Times at the conference, the National Director for Fire and Emergency Management Sean Hogan says that fire service expenditure has been protected, and his department provides capital support at national level through a grant system. “Generally, our infrastructure is good but there are more projects to be announced.

We have a strong fleet of appliances and specialists equipment so far and we are also expecting to announce procurement for new appliances. Fire Services have had good expenditure, obviously it fell over the austerity years, but the fire service expenditure has been protected. My department has a reasonable level of expenditure, we have €8m to spend again this year that will see our priority jobs through again this year”.

As CFOA Conference Secretary, Offaly’s Chief Fire Officer Eoin O’ Ceilleachair and Senior Assistant Chief Fire Officers Nick Smith, Clive Duke and Denis Canty have all being working hard over the past number of months in preparation for this year’s event. Eoin O’ Ceilleachair spoke to EmergencyTimes.com and said ‘further investment is needed so as to maintain the current standards that exist in the fire service’.

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“Up to three to four years ago, there was a large investment within the fire service n terms of the capital programme and the fleet and equipment. We are currently at a high level in terms of our fleet and in order to keep this at this level, and at a good operational level, further investment is needed so as to maintain the current standards that exist in the fire service”.

ACFO Denis Keeley: ‘Never let good enough be good enough’
Dublin Fire Brigade’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer Denis Keeley presented to delegates on Major Emergency Management in Ireland. He said ‘not everyone is cut out for major emergencies. “Emergency Management is more than the ability to get technical knowledge and have an understanding of information management. One of the key aspects in dealing with inter-agency work is the ability to get on with people and to communicate. If you have the wrong person in the wrong job, when you have someone in that position, they can do a lot of damage. Never let good enough be good enough, always strive for the highest standards possible”.

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Dublin Fire Brigade ACFO Denis Keeley. Photo: Declan Keogh 

ACFO Keeley believes one of the areas which are extremely important for Major Emergency management in the future and for Local Authority Fire Services is the area of partnerships, building on partnerships both internally and externally. “Improving value and expanding the role of MEM to other aspects of risk management and crisis management is extremely important. Two Crisis Management workshops delivered to Local Authority senior management in the eastern region have been well received. It shows senior management aspects of the emergency management and the framework, but it primarily focuses on crises management” he said.

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Internal view of Carlow On-Site Co-ordination Inflatable tent. Photo: Declan Keogh

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Up to 50 exhibitors from the fire trade and industry from Ireland, Northern Ireland, the UK and from across Europe attended the conference, showcasing their product or business to delegates. The internal and external exhibition areas consist of manufacturers and providers of the various fire fighting equipment, PPE, engineers and builders of fire appliances and vehicles, Communications and Technology, Health and Safety, Academics and training plus many more.

Training and Education are two key components for the Fire Service, and in County Carlow, both Carlow Fire & Rescue Service and the Institute of Technology Carlow provide that.  Carlow Fire and Rescue Service has constantly developed and improved its ability to deliver the highest possible standard of Breathing Apparatus and Compartment Fire Behavior Training available from the county’s Training and Development Centre in Hacketstown.

Photo: L-R: Rtd Offaly ACFO Tony Colville, Carlow CFO Gerard W. Guerin, Administrator Mary O’Neill & SACFO Mick Gahan,  Carlow Fire & Rescue Service. Photo: Declan Keogh

What started out as a local Breathing Apparatus training facility for Carlow, other brigades began to make use of it and from there, the centre developed further. Michael Gahan, Assistant Chief Fire Officer with Carlow County Fire and Rescue Service said “We got funding from the department in relation to expanding the centre. We just recently finished the construction of three-storey detached residents, we have an industrial type unit where we light real fires and we have a number of compartment fire behavior training units also”.

The various types of courses provided at the Hacketstown Training and Development Centre are training for Breathing Apparatus, Command for Fire Behaviour, Road Traffic Collisions, Heavy Rescue Vehicle and recruit fire-fighters. Emergency Times will have a further feature on the Hacketstown Training and Development centre at the end of this month.

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Graphic Design: Courtesy Dermot Scully

The Institute of Technology in Carlow provides a programme for Bachelors of Business in Emergency Services. The programme is aimed at fire and ambulance personnel, members of the Defence Forces and safety officers.

Programme Coordinator at Institute of Technology Carlow is Denis O’ Brien. He explains the course and what students can achieve. “The programme is delivered by industry experts such as ex Chief Fire Officers, exerts in the area of CISM, Emergency Services and Business and Management modules. Students get a level 8 honors degree after four years in Emergency Business Management which allows them to progress onto Level 9 Masters or to further their own career”.

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Marie Esmonde, Programme Administrator and Denis O’ Brien, Programme Coordinator, IT Carlow. Photo: Declan Keogh

Check out our Video Report on the 2015 CFOA Conference

Motorcyclists reminded about the dangers on the roads

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Motorcyclists and other road users are being reminded to take care on the roads this bank holiday weekend. So far this year, there is an increase of 3 motorcycle fatalities on the roads, compared to the same period last year. The May Bank Holiday weekend is generally the start of the season for many motorcyclists.

Garda John Joe O’ Connell, who featured on RTÉ’s ‘Traffic Blues’ programme and Leading Ambulance Paramedic  Tony Kelly, who featured on TV3’s ‘Paramedics’ programme previously took part in a joint road safety campaign with Kildare County Council’s Road Safety Officer Declan Keogh, in an effort to highlight the dangers and consequences of not wearing the proper PPE while riding a motorbike.

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Photo: Garda John Joe O’ Connell, Leading Ambulance Paramedic Tony Kelly and Road Safety Officer Declan Keogh

Motorcyclists accounted for 12% of road deaths in 2014, despite making up less than 2% of the total vehicle fleet. Both 2013 and 2014 show peaks in motorcyclist fatalities during April/May, June and July. The greater number of fatalities over the summer months coincides with a period of good weather in both years.

Drivers are being urged to constantly be on the lookout for motorcyclists, in their blind spots, at junctions and especially when turning right. Motorcyclists are asked to be extremely careful when overtaking, negotiating bends and to be particularly mindful of their speed.

Garda John Joe O’ Connell is a member of the Garda Traffic Corps in Naas. He says that motorcyclists are not exempt in any way from the same rules or restrictions as four wheeled vehicles. “We find when patrolling the roads of Kildare that the major offences by motorcyclists are speeding and defective motorcycles, and this includes all aspects of the bikes, the main one being the tyres. Not many know that the correct tyre thread depth for a motorbike is 1mm, and again not many wear the correct protective gear. We do stop and breathalyse motorcycle drivers, and they are also stopped or prosecuted for speeding etc. Motorcyclists should be reminded that whatever offence a vehicle driver can be prosecuted for, so too can a motorcyclist, and this includes speeding and drink or drug driving. We would urge any motorcyclist to ensure that firstly, the bike is roadworthy and secondly that they take all aspects of safety into consideration for themselves as a motorcyclist and also for their pillion passengers”

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Tony Kelly is a Leading Paramedic with the National Ambulance Service. He outlines what injuries can be sustained n such collisions. “All too often motorcyclists or pillion passengers suffer severe and unnecessary injuries following a collision with or from a motorcycle. Most common injuries we would see following a motorcycle collision are head injury, neck injury which would be spinal injury, and chest injury. We also see lower limb fractures. Where people are not wearing the correct or appropriate protective gear, a lot of people would suffer road rash, this is where the skin is torn off the patients, and they would suffer over the years getting skin graph”.

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Education and training are a key element in relation to riding a motorbike. Kildare County Council’s Road Safety Officer Declan Keogh says: “Motorcycling and biking can be fun and safe, however, if you do not have the proper skills and attitude to safety, then the benefit of education and training is lost and t becomes a much riskier pursuit. While visibility is an essential part of road safety, so too is wearing protective gear on a motorcycle because it can minimise the severity of injuries in a collision. Considering the injuries sustained in collisions, if you come off a motorbike, a vest will not provide for any protection whatsoever, whereas the protective gear will”.

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Preliminarily collision analysis of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2014 shows that:

· Motorcyclist fatalities are highest among men aged 20-40.

· Fatal collisions were most likely to occur at junctions, with either the motorcyclist or the other vehicle exiting on or off a main road; this type of manoeuvre led to 8 fatalities in 2014.

· Overtaking manoeuvres and losing control of the motorcycle also emerged as noteworthy contributory factors.

· Motorcyclist fatalities are most likely to occur in the afternoon and early evening from 4pm-8pm

· Eight out of ten motorcyclist fatalities occurred either on roads with an 80km/h speed limit or a 100km/h speed limit.

For other road users, driver distraction plays a role in 20% to 30% of collisions on our roads. As many as one in twelve drivers are using their phones while driving at any one time in Ireland. To support the Garda enforcement message this bank holiday, the RSA has developed a 30 second radio advert to remind drivers that, if detected using a mobile phone, they risk getting three penalty points on their licence.

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Members of An Garda Síochána will be out in force over the Bank Holiday Weekend to keep the roads safe from careless and dangerous drivers. The vast majority of people are law abiding and the Gardai are thanking road users for their good road behaviour. Assistant Commissioner John Twomey, Garda National Traffic Bureau said “It’s saving lives. But for those who continue to ignore the safety appeals I’m afraid we will have no alternative but to sanction those drivers because they put lives at risk. So this weekend we will be targeting drivers who break our road safety laws by speeding, drink or drug driving and not wearing a seatbelt. But we will be paying particular attention to the ever growing threat that mobile phone use while driving poses to our safety on the road”.

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Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohoe appealed to all road users, ahead of the Bank Holiday, to take extra care when using the roads, “The May bank holiday weekend was a very bad weekend for road safety last year. We lost five lives and six people sustained serious injuries over that four day period. I would appeal to everyone to be mindful of how you use the road, whether you are walking, cycling, riding a motorbike or driving. Ask yourself – what can I do to make this journey a safe one, for others, for my passengers and for myself? It could be something as simple as making more of a conscious effort to watch out for motorcyclist in blind spots, putting the mobile out of reach when driving or wearing the high visibility jacket when out walking. If we all make small changes it will make a big difference.”

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While there have been eight fewer road deaths to date in 2015 compared to last year, there is a rise in the number of motorcyclists and passengers. The rise in passengers is a real cause for concern as there was a 22% increase in passenger deaths in 2014. Ms Moyagh Murdock Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said “This trend appears to be continuing in 2015. No seatbelt was worn in a quarter of these deaths last year, according to crash analysis. The message needs to be repeated again loud and clear. You need to wear your seatbelt on each and every trip, you are naked without one and three out of four people will survive a crash if one is worn.”

Irish Red Cross Volunteers Honoured at Awards Ceremony

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The Irish Red Cross recognised the time, efforts and work undertaken by its local volunteers in helping communities throughout Limerick, at a special awards ceremony which was held Absolute Hotel, Limerick on Tuesday April 28th. Seventy members of the organisation from across Limerick City and County attended the function.

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The range of awards included gold, silver and bronze lapel pins, representing 40, 70, and 100 hours annual voluntary service. Special commemorative certificates were presented to volunteers who had given over 200 hours service in 2014. Denis Bates, a member of the Limerick Unit, received the award for the highest number of hours contributed in 2014 – an impressive 488 hours.

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Photo: Volunteer Denis Bates receives a plaque from National Director Anthony Lawlor

Volunteers also received 3 year, 5 year, 10 year and 20 year long service award scrolls in recognition of their time served as members of the Irish Red Cross. The ceremony specially highlighted a number of individual volunteers who had made extraordinary contributions during the year, with a surprise presentation being made to Dr. Andrew Kelly, from Limerick in appreciation of over 30 years’commitment to the Irish Red Cross locally.

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Photo: Irish Red Cross Board Member Kieran Meehan presents a special award to Dr. Andrew Kelly

Among the recipients was Niall Boland, from Murroe, who received the Member of the Year award for his outstanding commitment to event first aid cover, fundraising and training.

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Photo: National Director presents volunteer Niall Boland with Member of the Year Award

Mayor of Limerick City and County, Cllr. Kevin Sheahan praised the great work of the Irish Red Cross, and its volunteers. He said “The Limerick Branch of the Irish Red Cross has made a difference to the lives of generations of Limerick men, women and children.” The Mayor also surprised the audience by inviting the members of the Irish Red Cross in Limerick to attend a Civic Reception in their honour, which he will host at County Hall in the coming weeks.

The Mayor of Limerick City and County Cllr. Kevin Sheahan presented a gold lapel pin for 100 hours volunteer first aid service to Tommy Grey (right) from Shanagolden, Co. Limerick.

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Photo:  Limerick Mayor presents Gold Pin to Volunteer Tommy Grey

National Director of Units for the Irish Red Cross Anthony Lawlor said: “Tonight we recognise that Irish Red Cross volunteers contributed over 10,500 volunteer hours to cultural, sporting and humanitarian activities in Limerick City and County during 2014. This represents a huge commitment on behalf of our volunteers, who give up their own time freely and without reward, and it is important that we say thank you to them.” He added that “Limerick volunteers are held in very high regard by the Irish Red Cross for the contributions they make to the development of the organisation nationally, in key areas such as first aid training and clinical audit.”

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Photos: Courtesy Irish Red Cross Limerick

More Photos are available at:  http://on.fb.me/1FFdeIz