Heroism of volunteers in tackling gorse fires praised

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has heaped praise on local communities, volunteers as well as the emergency services for what he describes as the ‘extraordinary heroism’ shown by all those who helped in efforts over the weekend to extinguish wild fires which devastated huge parts of West Donegal.

Remarking that lessons must now be learned over how the state responds to serious emergency events in future, the Donegal TD is demanding an urgent explanation from the Minister over the lengthy delay in having the Air Corps arrive at the scene to provide assistance.

Teachta Doherty said: “As everyone will no doubt be aware by now, the huge wildfires which ravaged whole swathes of West Donegal are now thankfully under control and fortunately no one was seriously injured or worse.


“Credit for this must go to everyone who did their bit and came out to help tackle this terrible blaze, including the hundreds of volunteers and ordinary people from throughout Donegal and further afield whose efforts to bring these fires under control cannot be commended enough.”

Deputy Doherty said he first became aware of the extent of the fires when he received a phone call from his colleague, Marie Therese Gallagher, who was at the scene early yesterday morning.

“Whilst there, I witnessed for myself the Trojan efforts being put in by local farmers, business owners and others who brought in water tankers and took other measures to assist the emergency services.

“Likewise, a great deal of praise must go to the Gardaí, the Donegal Fire Service, army personnel, members of the Air Corp, and all the emergency responders who were deployed to the scene yesterday.

“It became clear to all of us quite early on yesterday that a number of properties close to the scene of the fire were at risk and that the first priority was to ensure residents were evacuated before attempting to protect homes and other buildings.

 “Needless to say everyone who took part in yesterday’s effort to extinguish these fires showed such extraordinary heroism and that is the message we all should take away from what happened yesterday.

“Notwithstanding this, I think it’s important that lessons be learnt from what occurred over the weekend, specifically with respect to the procedures to be followed in such crisis situations.”


Deputy Doherty said a review into how the authorities mitigate against such fires in future needs to be carried out, including various prevention measures such as the cutting of excessive vegetation and the maintenance and upkeep of roadsides and hedgerows.

“Similarly, we must seriously examine how we can facilitate and compliment the work of the emergency services and the authorities when responding to such events, including looking at the various ways we can equip and support volunteers, particularly those with tankers for example, to provide assistance.”

He is also seeking urgent answers from Minister Paul Kehoe as to why, despite a request for the Air Corps helicopter to be deployed, it took eight hours for it to arrive yesterday.

“In fact, a number of local politicians and I made contact yesterday morning with the Minister in order to communicate the seriousness of what was happening on the ground here and to stress the need for the defence forces to be deployed.

“While nothing should be done to take away or down play the amazing work done by the Air Corps and all who helped to put these gorse fires out yesterday, without which much more damage would have been done, it is now nonetheless vital that lessons are learnt so that we may improve how we respond to emergencies like this going forward,” he said.



Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere

and get access to our archive editions dating back to 2007
Every Thursday
Every Monday

Donegal News is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. St. Anne's Court, Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland