Commenting, Mr Storey said:
‘‘It is absolutely appropriate that we pause to thank to members of our emergency services who make enormous sacrifices every day to protect their communities from harm and promote the safety and wellbeing of others.
The Covid-19 pandemic has underlined the critical role played by those employed in our health service, ambulance service and PSNI. Staff have operated under immense pressures and often at great personal cost. There have also been major incidents that have required the skills and dedication of the NIFRS and Coastguard, including the extensive fires in the Mournes.
I want to place on record our sincere appreciation for their work during what has been an extremely challenging period. A special mention must be given to those volunteers who have stepped forward to boost our emergency services over the past twelve months in the interests of keeping their family, friends and neighbours safe.
There is now an onus on ministers and the Executive collectively to ensure that our gratitude from local emergency workers translates into practical benefits, whether that be fairer pay, better workplace support or additional staffing.
Ultimately our support must go beyond mere words. It is essential that our NHS workers and first responders are valued not just in times of crisis but 24/7 365 days a year.’’