10 June: Firefighter Rui Rosinha asks the Government and opposition for a serious commitment to cohesion


Pedrógão Grande, Leiria, 10 June 2024 (Lusa) – Firefighter Rui Rosinha, who was seriously injured in the Pedrógão Grande fires in June 2017, today asked the Government and the opposition for a “serious commitment” to cohesion and criticized measures that don’t come off the paper.

“On this Portugal Day, we take advantage of the focus of this celebration to, in the presence of the Government and representatives of the opposition, call for a serious commitment to these low-density territories”, said Rui Rosinha, in Pedrógão Grande, at the military ceremony commemorating Portugal Day. Portugal, Camões and the Portuguese Communities.

Before the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the President of the Assembly of the Republic, José Pedro Aguiar-Branco, the Prime Minister, Luís Montenegro, members of his Government and representatives of opposition parties, Rui Rosinha asked for a “serious and true territorial, social and structural cohesion, and not just paper measures without effective implementation”.

The firefighter was invited by the head of state to speak at the Portugal Day celebrations, this year centered in Pedrógão Grande, Figueiró dos Vinhos and Castanheira de Pera, the municipalities most affected by the fires of June 2017, which caused 66 deaths and 253 injuries. , in addition to the destruction of homes, businesses and forests.

Rui Rosinha, 46 years old, was the leader of a Castanheira de Pera Volunteer Firefighter vehicle mobilized for these fires and in which four other firefighters followed. One of them – Gonçalo Conceição – died.

In his speech, the firefighter, who belongs to the corporation’s honour roll, recalled the fires, remembering the dead – especially his colleague Gonçalo Conceição – and the injured, to emphasize that the scars “are deep and irreparable”.

“The tragedy exposed many of our vulnerabilities, but it also highlighted our unity and resilience as a nation”, he noted, noting that “the affected region showed the world the strength of Portuguese solidarity”, without forgetting the help from foreign communities.

However, Rui Rosinha, who performed the intervention in a wheelchair, considered that “very little reached the territory”, and “the bureaucracy is heavy and time-consuming”.

“The path to recovery has been quite difficult”, he admitted, arguing that we must “fight for the affected region not only to recover, but to become stronger, with safer infrastructure, more muscular emergency services and environmental and forestry policies that prevent future tragedies, as climate change is a daily reality”.

For the firefighter, “it is essential to invest in sustainable economic activities that guarantee a prosperous and, above all, dignified future for the region’s inhabitants”.

Afterwards, Rui Rosinha pointed out the “structuring problems” faced by those who live, want to settle, invest or do tourism in these municipalities in the north of the Leiria district.

Lack of doctors, little public transport, the “extremely dangerous route” that is Complementary Itinerary 8 in the region, telecommunications failures, limited educational offerings or the absence of jobs are the examples he pointed out.

“Despite all these problems and difficulties that could easily lead us to give up and abandon this region, we continue here, resisting stoically and with great determination to transform this territory, making it more attractive, fair, safe and, above all, cohesive. ”, continued Rui Rosinha.

The firefighter, who defined himself as an optimist, also said he aspires “for a Portugal where all citizens, regardless of their place of residence, can live with dignity, security, hope and without negative discrimination”.

“May all Portuguese people, both those living in Portugal and those in the diaspora, learn from the past, unite in the present and work together for a future where security, prosperity and well-being are a reality for all”, advanced.

For Rui Rosinha, paying homage to the fatal victims of the Pedrógão Grande tragedy involves “continuing to fight for a stronger and more resilient country”.

“May the spirit of solidarity, unity and justice guide us towards a better future for all”, added the firefighter, ending with “Viva Portugal”.