SIPTU members employed as retained firefighters have reacted with outrage to the response of Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, to their demands for immediate action to stem a recruitment and retention crisis which is threatening the future of the vital emergency service. SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Karan O Loughlin, said: “As our members take to the picket line and protest for a second day, they are making clear their universally angry reaction to the statement on the dispute that Mr O’Brien made to the Dáil yesterday (Tuesday, 13th June).  “In his statement, he said nothing can be done concerning the recruitment and retention crisis in their service until new public sector talks commence, adding that firefighters should take ‘his word’ that he would seek to rectify the serious structural issues in the service then. This is nowhere near good enough and has made resolution of this dispute more difficult. “Our members believed that when they entered into discussions on the implementation of the Coyne Report on reform of the Retained Fire Service in January, the process would be meaningful and would deliver improvements in a reasonable time frame. They now hear the Minister saying that while he supports their cause, he can do nothing about it in advance of new public service pay talks.” She added: “The Coyne Report asserts that additional expenditure is required. Mr O’Brien and the public expenditure and finance ministers need to put their heads together and arrange for the allocation and release of funds required to action the Coyne Report reforms if this strike is to be resolved.” SIPTU Sector Organiser, Brendan O’Brien, said: “Firefighters across the country are receiving overwhelming public support for their strike action. They are steadfast and resolute in the pursuit of their objectives and the Minister’s statement last night has strengthened their resolve to escalate their industrial action, as planned, if necessary.”