Army unit like ‘third world’ facility

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney addressing the delegates at the PDforra annual conference at the Clayton Hotel, Galway.Picture: Hany Marzouk

The Defence Forces’ central medical unit in the Curragh has been described as a third world facility, with a leaking roof, peeling paintwork, broken window panes and totally understaffed.

Delegates attending the PDforra conference were told the building, built by the British in 1900, was totally unfit for purpose and was the subject of a litany of health and safety issues.

The facility is responsible for overseeing the health of 1,650 troops based locally and also acts as a training school for military first responders and paramedics.

Staff working there have called on the Department of Defence to address, as a matter of urgency, the dilapidation of the buildings and working conditions.

There are staff shortages in the unit particularly when emergency medical technicians are tasked on training course or overseas service. PDforra is demanding staffing levels that can meet requirements and sustain a functioning medical unit.

One delegate said staff shortages are at a critical level. “Due to operational commitments and overseas commitments we are down to just five staff for this month, whereas we should have anything between 40 and 45 staff,” he said.

Medical staff also claimed some of the buildings, particularly those used for medical instruction and the 24-hour duty ambulance crew are antiquated and in extremely poor condition.

“We need a whole new building. What we have is a big, draughty, old building. It can be freezing in there at times. Pools of water appear on the floors after it rains. There are broken window panes and certain areas don’t have proper hot water,” a delegate said. “It’s third world conditions with real health and safety issues all over the place. When it comes to funding the medical corps seems to be always at the bottom of the pile.”

PDforra is calling on the Department of Defence to take urgent action to remedy the situation.

Meanwhile, the Defence Forces have started testing water quality at their installations amid fears that harmful minerals and bacteria could be present in some supply systems. Many of the barracks were built a number of years ago and PDforra, which represents enlisted personnel, has raised concerns about the possibility of lead piping still being in use.

The association’s health and safety officer Ray McKenna said both biological and mineral testing had recently started and he was awaiting the results.

He said any remedial works needed to address drinking water quality would have to be undertaken before the end of next year.

He also said PDforra had continued concerns about conditions at the military compound at Portlaoise Prison, some of which were now being addressed.

Mr McKenna said he had carried out an inspection at the compound last January and submitted a report to the military conciliation and arbitration board.

“In response to these concerns, some work has been carried out such as repairs to fire doors, leaking radiators fixed, ceiling lights replaced and the gym floor replaced. Although more work is needed, it is encouraging to see standards improving.”

More on this topic

Irish Examiner View: A dangerous slideIrish Examiner View: A dangerous slide

Naval staff shortage may see ship tied up while Ireland ‘awash with drugs’Naval staff shortage may see ship tied up while Ireland ‘awash with drugs’

Letters on naval ship civil war use not passed onLetters on naval ship civil war use not passed on

44 personnel have left naval service since vessels tied up44 personnel have left naval service since vessels tied up


Lifestyle

FOR many of us, health insurance is high on the list of financial products which that we tend to avoid changing out of fear and confusion.Money and Cents: cover all the bases for best health insurance

Anya Taylor-Joy plays the titular Emma in the latest adaptation of Jane Austen’s romantic comedy about the spoilt, meddling matchmaker who means well, says Laura HardingAnya Taylor-Joy: ‘Emma is my little monster’

Setting sail to travel the world as part of your job has a romance all of its own but for marketing manager Máire Cronin and engineer Mark Crowe it led to love.Wedding of the Week: Cruise ship co-workers Máire and Mark sail off into sunset

One of the genres that has seen exponential growth in the podcast world is the sleepcast. Open Spotify on your phone in the evening and a number of offerings are available, writes Eoghan O'SullivanThe Podcast Corner: podcasts that will put you to sleep

More From The Irish Examiner