Speeches

Address by Minister of State, Tim O´Malley T.D., at the launch of European First Aid Day in O’Connell Street, Limerick on Saturday

Introduction

It gives me great pleasure to be here today and I would like to thank Mr Scott Keenan and the members of the Limerick Branch of the Irish Red Cross Society, a society with such a proud and honorable tradition both in Ireland and Internationally, for the invitation to launch European First Aid Day here in Limerick, a day which, it is hoped, will give members of the public direct experience of how they might help at the scene of an accident and potentially save a life.

Background

The International Committee of the Red Cross was founded in 1863 in Geneva and it has a membership of over 250 million in 149 countries.

On 1st July, 1939 the Irish Red Cross Society was established by an Act of the Oireachtas in accordance with the Statutes of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Just over a month later, on the eve of World War II, the inaugural meeting of the IRCS governing body, the Central Council, was held in Dublin on 5 September. Prior to this, the Society had existed in Ireland as an autonomous entity within the British Red Cross Society

Activity in Ireland

There are now over 100 Units of the Red Cross in existence across the country providing a range of rescue and relief operations in addition to providing a variety of broadly-based community services including youth work and care for the sick and elderly.

It has secured national recognition for its high-quality courses in First-Aid for individuals, groups and employers, which is based on its own extensive experience in the provision of First-Aid at national and local events such as football matches, concerts and other events where large numbers of people gather and where First-Aid treatment might be required.

Initiatives in domestic healthcare over the course of the Society´s history in Ireland include the establishment of TB Sanitoria to deal with the public health crises caused by the disease and the establishment of a Blood Transfusion Service prior to passing this service over to a state agency – The National Blood Transfusion Board, now the Irish Blood Transfusion Service. It also promoted water safety awareness and was responsible for many water safety campaigns up to 1991 before passing responsibility for the Service over to another newly established state agency – The Water Safety Council.

European First-Aid Day

Regional First-Aid Days organised by the Red Cross movement across Europe help raise First-Aid awareness and promote the importance of protecting and saving lives. On these Days, National Societies organise activities which provide the general public with opportunities to learn more about, or to refresh, their First-Aid knowledge and skills. Events held previously have proved highly successful with thousands of participants joining Red Cross volunteers in several cities and communities not just in Europe but throughout the world.

Role of Voluntary Organisations

As I mentioned earlier voluntary organizations like the Red Cross complement the professional and State emergency services by providing excellent First-Aid and ambulance cover at large public events where crowds are gathered and in the immediate aftermath of major accidents or emergencies. The availability and willingness of the Red Cross to undertake this support service is a clear indication of the co-operation which exists in the State between the professional and voluntary sector, not just in the provision of emergency services but also in the provision of our health services generally.

Conclusion

I am proud to be associated with this event and it gives me great pleasure to officially launch European First-Aid Day in Limerick today and I would like to avail of this opportunity to congratulate the members of the Irish Red Cross Society on their dedication and achievements to date and to wish them continued success in the future.