National Service Day is marked by a number of parades across the country to recognize the work of frontline personnel in emergency, health, safety and volunteer services.
Parades involving the gardaí, the National Ambulance Service, the fire brigade, the Coast Guard, civil defense teams, the Red Cross, the Order of Malta, a number of mountain rescue teams and cliff, as well as blood bike teams and assisted suicide groups have taken part in parades in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Castlebar, Castleblayney, Kilkenny and Wexford.
The first Saturday in September was designated as National Service Day by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in 2018 as a day of recognition and thanks to those who serve communities across the country. He said they were the cornerstone of civic engagement when danger comes to all citizens, and to whom so many across the country are indebted.
The Covid pandemic has prevented parades from being held across the country for the past two years, but hundreds of people involved in the services today took part in the two marching groups as well as a parade of emergency vehicles and ambulances.
The City of Limerick hosted its first National Service Parade this afternoon, and members of the public cheered them on as they passed through the city.
The end of the parade was marked by a flyover of the Shannon-based Rescue 115 helicopter.
These frontline workers said the Covid pandemic had placed them and their services under great pressure, but the crisis also showed how adaptive they were, how volunteers were always ready to take on additional tasks and how they also continued to train to keep up with and develop their expertise.
Danny O’Connor of the Limerick Fire Service said the pandemic has brought a whole new set of circumstances to their daily work, trying to protect their teams and at the same time continuing to help members of the public who were under threat .
Cecilia O’Flaherty, who leads civil defense teams in Limerick, said the Covid pandemic has tested all health, security and rescue services but it has also shown how they have quickly adapted to restrictions which are imposed on them.
This meant teams of volunteers were readily available, and she said they had retrained when they could throughout the pandemic.
Today gave all of these teams the opportunity to meet the public to engage with them in a non-emergency situation.
Ger O’Dea, Community Engagement Manager at the National Ambulance Service, said: “This year is particularly significant for us as it is the first series of unrestricted events since the Covid-19 pandemic. 19 hit.
“We want to use the events of this year to remember especially all those we have lost and those who have been touched in so many ways.”
National Service Day is a day of remembrance and celebration and we ask the public to show their support for our frontline, emergency and security personnel,” he added.