The global pandemic we find ourselves in has allowed us to step back in life and take note of the important things. It has also amplified the importance of our local community. And while our frontline workers tackle the virus head on, there are those behind the frontline, who ensure their colleagues can carry out the job to the best of their ability.
In this installment of our community heroes’ campaign, we (virtually) head to the Irish Naval Base in Cork, where we spoke to member of the Defence Forces & Mechanical Engineer, Ruairí De Barra who works in the MENDY Unit based in the Naval Dockyard. As the base for Naval Ships in Ireland, Ruairí and his colleagues have an extremely important role to play, ensuring ships are safe and functional, to support the needs of their teams across the country. As part of the Defence Forces, working as one is second nature. Ruairí told us just how they have come together as a community in “Operation Fortitude”, the Defence Forces response to Covid-19.
As a member of the Defence Forces since 1998, Ruairí describes his role at the Irish Naval Base. “On a normal day, we repair and maintain the Navy Service Fleet of Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIBs). These boats are the workhorses of the Irish Naval Service. Without these, the Navy could not complete its most important tasks like search and rescue”.
As an important cog in the wheel for the Defence Forces, Ruairí and his colleagues are trained to adapt and overcome in emergency situations. They have used these techniques to help them navigate a new normal during the Covid-19 response. With new social distancing restrictions, working apart has become an element of their new normal. “Working apart is a very strange place for us to be. We are used to working under pressure in small teams, often in response to emergency requirements”.
“Although it doesn’t come naturally, we know that is so important for us to adhere to these guidelines. The work we do here in the MENDY Unit, supports our colleagues in Cork and Dublin with Operation Fortitude, the Defence Forces Covid-19 response mission”.
While navigating their way through this new way of operating, now more than ever, teamwork is of paramount importance to Ruairí and his colleagues. “Teamwork is an integral part of everything we do. Having a role to play in this is really important to me – the fact that what you do will make a difference makes me passionate – we’re all in this together after all”.
Working as one is a key value instilled in members of the Defence Forces. Ruairí explains how important these values are in ensuring everything they do has a purpose and makes a real difference. “In the Defence Forces we have a set of values, which we try to not just say, but live by. Respect, Loyalty, Selflessness, Physical Courage, Moral Courage and Integrity. If we live these values, we build unbeatable & unbreakable teams”.
These values translate into the Defence Forces interaction with their local communities. As with every community around the country, the Defence Forces have strong bonds, built from years of friendship and service. Ruairí notes the work of the veteran community of the Defence Forces as an important aspect, showing just how much of a commitment to service these veterans have to the people they serve. “The coming together of the veteran groups who have offered their support to their community by volunteering for so many different tasks, shows just how much the Defence Forces community give to society”.
The goodwill of groups such as the Defence Forces Veterans shows just how communities around the country have rallied together to make a real difference to those they come into contact with.
Ruairí’s story has been told as part of the #PoweredByPeople campaign – Community Heroes Edition. This campaign tells stories of those in our community who are going above and beyond to make lives a little easier. Ruairí is also a member of ANSAC Credit Union – a credit union which serves the Defence Forces community in Ireland.