A “VICIOUS and nasty” attack on Limerick firefighters over the Bank Holiday weekend is under investigation by Gardai after a gang of youths used weapons like shovels, a pool cue and even large rocks at a bonfire on Sunday night to attack a fire crew.
Members of the Limerick City Fire and Rescue Service were alerted to a bonfire in Garryowen on Sunday night last shortly after 8pm and one unit was dispatched to the scene.
As the crew arrived to the area, they were met by a gang of upwards of a dozen youths who were armed with the items.
Aged in their early teens, some as young as 13, the youths attacked the firefighters.
In an act of brazen thuggery, one youth attacked a firefighter with a pool cue and broke it off his helmet. The violent attack, investigators say, was clearly meant to inflict an injury on the firefighter.
The shocking footage captured the youth then goading the firefighters after he struck one of them around the head.
Others used shovels and planks of wood to strike the firefighters.
Large rocks were also thrown at the crew members and one was used to smash the windscreen of the fire truck.
The crew members who came under attack received minor injuries but did not require hospitalisation afterwards and were treated back at their Mulgrave Street base after they left the scene.
Gardai attended the scene and are investigating the attack and the identity of the youths involved.
It is understood that a number of adults were in the vicinity of the attack with one female seen observing the attack from her car.
Gardai are appealing for witnesses to come forward with any information they may have.
This incident, and similar incidents in the past, have been widely condemned with many calling for full implementation of the previously Fianna Fáil drafted legislation to allow for full prosecutions, leading to mandatory jail sentences, for attacks on members of the emergency services.
Limerick FF TD Deputy Niall Collins called for the legislation to be enacted for the “protection of our frontline services.”
He said that attacks on emergency services were a “serious low in society, and something that should be eradicated with the appropriate deterrents.
This Monday, Deputy Collins confirmed that the legislation will be reintroduced to the next Dail.
Last year, IFESA, the Irish Fire and Emergency Service Association, called for the then Government to review their decision to reject legislation allowing mandatory jail sentences for those convicted of assaulting and injuring emergency services workers.
The association says that every 36 hours, a member of the frontline emergency services is attacked while on duty. There have been 2,000 serious attacks on emergency services workers in Ireland over the past eight years, with 1,551 attacks confirmed between 2006 and 2011.
While the numbers of attacks on Limerick firefighters is below the national average, there has been a slight increase on the numbers of attacks and the premeditation used by the offenders.
IFESA chairman John Kidd said that frontline services are not being properly protected by the Government, with their sick pay conditions actually being cut.
“It is an extraordinary situation that emergency workers, who everyone in society says are doing a great job, are not being properly protected in the course of their duties,” he said.
The most recent attack on Limerick firefighters is under investigation by Gardai.