Defence force personnel have played their part in the fight against Covid

29 December 2020

Labour Spokeperson on Defence, Senator Mark Wall has paid tribute to members of the Defence Forces who continue to assist in the battle against Covid-19.

On average, Since 13 March 2020, an average of 187 Defence Forces personnel have deployed on COVID-19 related supports on a daily basis.

In a detailed reply from the Minister for Defence, Senator Wall and the Labour Party were informed that members of the Defence Forces have been involved in a wide range of Covid 19 activities that have included :

– operation of the COVID-19 testing centre at the Aviva stadium;

– support for contact tracing efforts;

– transportation by the Air Corps of COVID-19 tests to Germany;

– collection of PPE from more than 260 cargo flights and the ongoing storage and distribution of this PPE to various HSE sites;

– support for HSE testing efforts including through deployment of Naval Service vessels to Dublin, Cork and Galway;

– PPE training to workers at Cork and Waterford harbours by Naval service personnel;

– provision of tentage and marshalling support at various HSE testing sites around the country;

– transportation of patients for testing;

– assistance with the fit out of temporary facilities for the HSE (for example, the HSE facilities at City West and the University of Limerick);

– production and assembly of PPE using 3D printing facilities; and

– the use of lands at Ballymullen Barracks as a COVID-19 testing facility and contact tracing hub.

In addition to supporting the HSE, the Defence Forces have also provided a broad range of supports to other Departments and Agencies. Provision of this support was also coordinated by the Joint Task Force. Examples include:

– Support has been provided to the National Ambulance Service through Defence Forces ambulance and crew supports along with tele-triage supports.

– Support to the Office of Government Procurement through assistance with storage and distribution of PPE.

– Support to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government through the use of lands at Sarsfields Barracks for the location of one of the National Temporary Body Storage Facilities. The Defence Forces were also on standby to provide support if required at the Dublin based National Temporary Body Storage Facility at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham.

In the reply from the Minister , Senator Wall was also informed that the Defence Forces Joint Task Force is based in McKee Barracks and its priority from the beginning has been to provide support to the HSE, while retaining, at all times, a contingent capacity to provide Aid to the Civil Power support.

Senator Wall concluded. “I have been contacted by a large number of people who wanted to pay tribute to the members of the Defence forces who they have interacted with during this pandemic. I got the opportunity to pay tribute to these members in the Seanad recently.

“It is very important that we acknowledge the continuing efforts of our Defence force personnel in assisting the HSE in the growing fight against this Covid threat to our country. The daily efforts of almost 200 members of the Irish Defence forces in carrying out the many and differing tasks they have been involved with since 13th March is just another example of how important our Defence forces are to this country. We must ensure that this is recognised and that the pay and conditions of these personnel is reflective of their loyalty and abilities.”

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