Mr McCarthy was speaking during the motion, where he and Alliance supported an amendment seeking Executive approval to ring-fence the NIFRS budget, consistent with frontline service function.
“The NIFRS contains some of the most courageous people who put their lives on the line on a daily basis to do their jobs. That dedication can only be described as a frontline service and must be regarded as such. Just this past weekend, a serious fire in Castlewellan unfortunately took the life of a young girl, Ellen Finnegan. The firefighters involved deserve tribute for the excellent work they did in trying to save her life.
“The NIFRS is one of the best performing in the UK and there can be no doubt proposed further cuts would have devastating consequences for everyone who lives here. However we are realistic – we accept there are budgetary constraints right across the Department and a subsequent budget reduction for the NIFRS over the past number of years.
“The last thing anyone would wish for would be station closures or firefighter numbers to be dramatically reduced but there could be dire consequences if the Minister and his Department cannot sit down with the representatives of this vital service to prevent disaster and move forward together to secure lasting agreement.”