Dunleer retained fire officer forced to retire

The fate of a retained firefighter in Dunleer who is facing mandatory retirement within the next three months lies in the hands of the government, the Dáil has heard today.

The situation faced by Dunleer station officer John Molloy who will turn 62 on May 24 and would, without government intervention, have to retire under the existing legislation, was raised by Louth TD Ruairí Ó Murchú.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was asked by the Sinn Féin deputy earlier this week about the situation and the Fine Gael leader said the government had agreed that they would bring forward legislation to raise the mandatory retirement age for uniformed service personnel to 62.
But Deputy Ó Murchú told the Dáil during a Topical Issue debate on the matter today (Thursday) that he fears that Mr Molloy would ‘fall between two stools’ and the government legislation would not be ready in time to halt his mandatory retirement.

The Dundalk TD highlighted how the fate of Mr Molloy, who is the only retained station officer in Dunleer, now rests in the hands of the government and pleaded with Minister Malcolm Noonan for an interim solution for the firefighter.

Mr Molloy, who has spent 18 years as a retained firefighter, having served 22 years in the Defence Forces before that, does not want to retire and is ‘more than fit enough’ to do the job, Deputy Ó Murchú said.
In addition, there was an added problem in that if Mr Molloy is forced to retire in May, there is no-one to replace him and it would have ‘huge implications’ for the fire service in Dunleer.

He said the crews cannot operate with less than five people and Mr Molloy’s retirement at this time would mean a loss of institutional knowledge and ‘vast experience’. Deputy Ó Murchú said he had also spoken to the responsible minister, Darragh O’Brien about the matter.
Minister Noonan said the government had previously used a circular issued to local authorities, who are in charge of the fire service, to raise the retirement age to 60 while legislation to that effect was being completed.

Deputy Ó Murchú said: ‘Surely it is not beyond the power of government to do something similar or get a workaround for Mr Molloy? We do not want him to fall between two stools where he must retire before the legislation is finalised for the sake of two or three months’.
Minister Noonan acknowledged that Mr Molloy’s ‘future is in limbo while the legislation is being drafted’ but undertook to get a timeline on when it might be ready and whether a circular in the interim would be enough to extend the firefighter’s retirement age before May 24’.

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