|In 2001 certain Government structures were put in place to support emergency planning in Ireland and to improve coordination across the various existing national emergency plans. |
The Minister for Defence chairs a Government Task Force on Emergency Planning which comprises those Ministers and/or senior officials of Government Departments and public authorities, which make a key contribution to the emergency planning process. The Government Task Force is the top-level structure which gives policy and direction, and which coordinates and oversees the emergency planning activities of all Government Departments and public authorities. It promotes the best possible use of resources and compatibility between different planning requirements.
When the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning was established the Office of Emergency Planning (OEP) was set up within the Department of Defence to support the Minister in his role as Chair. The OEP is responsible to the Minister for Defence for the coordination and oversight of emergency planning and provides administrative back up for this work. It is a joint civil and military office and, in addition to supporting the work of the Task Force and Inter-departmental Working Groups, it supports the Minister in his oversight function, which in turn feeds into the Annual Report to Government on Emergency Planning. The OEP also coordinates specific pieces of work requested by the Task Force.
In Ireland the lead responsibility for specific emergency planning functions remains with the relevant Government Departments. When an emergency occurs, the appropriate emergency plan is set into operation with the relevant Department taking the lead in its implementation.
In April 2008 the Government’s Public Information and Awareness Campaign on emergency planning was launched. The central focus of the campaign was a handbook “Preparing for Major Emergencies” which was prepared by the Office of Emergency Planning and was distributed to every household in the country. Copies of the handbook can be ordered by emailing the OEP at email@example.com or may be downloaded in various forms and languages from the Emergency Planning Website at: www.emergencyplanning.ie
A National Emergency Co-Ordination Centre (NECC) was established in 2007 where Ministers and/or Senior Civil Servants can convene to co-ordinate national responses to a major emergency. The NECC has been used on an ongoing basis since it was established and the NECC is equipped with the latest robust communications systems and support facilities. The NECC is available to all Government Departments and Agencies for use in emergency planning and response. It is the venue for meetings of the Governmental Task Force on Emergency Planning, Interdepartmental Working Groups on Emergency Planning and the National Steering Group for the implementation of the Framework for Major Emergency Management. The Severe Weather National Coordination Group and other similar National Coordination Groups for other emergencies would also meet in the Centre when the need arises.
In addition, it was decided by the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning to launch a “Be Winter-Ready” Information Campaign to give the public advice on how to prepare for severe weather and highlighted the “whole of Government” approach being taken informing the public of what was being done and where information can be sourced. The central message of this Information Campaign is simply to encourage people to be prepared, to stay safe and to know where to find help if you need it.
The central focus of the Information Campaign is an information booklet ‘Be Winter- Ready’ and the Winter Ready website: www.winterready.ie .
The main objectives of the Information Campaign are:
· To provide practical advice to on how best to prepare for the coming winter.
· To ensure the public are aware of where advice and help can be found if needed.
· To reassure the public that preparations are being made and arrangements have been put in place to ensure that there will be a coordinated response to severe weather events.
The website www.winterready.ie , as well as providing an electronic version of the “Be Winter-Ready” booklet, provides links to other useful Public Service websites that provide more detailed information and advice.
In addition, the Office of Emergency Planning launched a twitter account and will be tweeting during the winter period to augment the 'Be Winter Ready' campaign. Follow on @emergencyIE and join in the conversation at #bewinterready.
The main message is simple - be prepared, stay safe and know where to find help should you need it.