50 additional National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) conservation rangers will be recruited by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, following the Killarney fire.
Over the course of the last three days, fires have ravaged Killarney National Park in Co. Kerry. It is understood that the flames are now largely under control.
However, early estimates indicate that 2,500ha to 3,000ha – or approximately 50% of the park’s land area – has been impacted.
On foot of this, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien and Minister of State for heritage Malcolm Noonan have announced the “accelerated recruitment” of the 50 additional rangers.
Both ministers appear satisfied that the Killarney fire – as well as the fire in Co. Mayo – was started illegally.
While at the scene of the fire in Kerry, Minister O’Brien said: “While the exact cause of these events is still to be determined, wildfires do not occur naturally in Ireland.
He added: “The main cause of such conflagrations is thought to be the deliberate starting of fires without concern for the emergency services; the local wildlife; habitat; communities; or even private property close by.
“They are set knowing them to be illegal. The devastation this has caused cannot be overstated.
“The response on the ground has been an impressive combined effort between the Fire Service, the NPWS and the Air Corps which has thankfully resulted in the fire being brought under control,” Minister O’Brien said.
Meanwhile, Minister Noonan said: “I’m heartened to be able to announce that we’re doubling our intake of NPWS conservation rangers and accelerating the recruitment process.
He added: “I’ll also be writing to colleagues across government in key [departments] and appealing to them to work with us to end these all-too-frequent tragedies.
“In addition, the NPWS will be working with An Garda Síochána to investigate the cause of the fire and fully assess the damage,” Minister Noonan concluded.