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CBRNe World Convergence – All Hazards Response 2013
City West Hotel Dublin,
16th – 17th April 2013

Opening Address by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence,

Alan Shatter, T.D.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen; welcome to Ireland and welcome to Dublin. It is my great pleasure to open the CBRNe World Convergence – All Hazards Response 2013 conference and exhibition.

I would, particularly, like to welcome CBRNe World to Ireland as the world’s leading publication in the CBRNe field and its editor, Gwyn Winfield. Having hosted events like this twice yearly since 2008 in places as diverse as Singapore, the Hague, Rio de Janeiro, and Istanbul, I am delighted that they have chosen Dublin for the ‘All Hazards Response’ 2013 Conference. Bringing experts in the CBRNe field together for these conferences, CBRNe World strive to develop understanding and knowledge sharing in this area. It also provides an opportunity for you, the experts, to pass on your experience from one region to those in another.

CBRNe World personnel had an opportunity to see Irish CBRN expertise being utilised when they attended a Defence Forces exercise, titled "Contained Freedom", in Dublin port in 2011. This was a multi-agency exercise involving the Defence Forces, An Garda Síochána, the Dublin Port Authority, the Dublin Fire Service, the Civil Defence and Met Éireann.

Following this exercise we were delighted that CBRNe World decided to bring the ‘All Hazards Response’ conference to Ireland this year. I understand that experts have gathered today from the UK, the USA, Austria, Italy, France, Japan and Ireland to share their knowledge and expertise. I am sure the contribution by Colonel Iwakuma from Japan, who follows my opening remarks, will be of particular interest. He will, amongst other topics, talk about the impact of the tsunami on the nuclear plant at Fukushima, an event which had an international impact and made headlines throughout the world. This incident is an example to us all as to how a natural disaster can have very serious consequences in the CBRN spectrum and effect public safety in an unforeseen manner.

The field of CBRN is an area of growing concern for the international community. Responding to a major CBRN incident will entail a multi faceted response, requiring coordination and cooperation at all levels to ensure the safety of the public.

As a nation we have recognised this and have planned for such emergencies under our Framework for Major Emergency Management. All Departments and Agencies can be utilised in dealing with such emergencies and this Framework, together with our National Protocol for Responding to a Malign CBRN Incident, coordinates the required responses.

The European Union is also currently researching ways to progress this response through the Programme to Improve Co-operation in the EU for Preventing and Limiting the Consequences of Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear (CBRN) Terrorist Threats. Ireland as the current holder of the Presidency of the Council of the EU welcomes the overall aim of this EU Programme, which is to increase the efficiency of the measures taken at national and EU level with regard to terrorist CBRN threats.

In Ireland the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning is the primary State structure in place to support emergency planning and to improve coordination across the various existing national emergency plans. It comprises of those Ministers and/or senior officials of Government Departments and Public Authorities, who make a key contribution to the emergency planning process and is chaired by myself as Minister for Defence. The Task Force provides policy and direction, overseeing all emergency planning activities and promoting the best possible use of resources. The Lead Role for planning the State’s response to an emergency rests with the functional Minister and his or her Government Department, with support from other key Departments and Public Authorities.

The Department of Justice and Equality is the Lead Government Department for malign CBRN incidents, and nationally the initial response to an incident involving CBRN will be from An Garda Síochána (our police force), the Lead Agency. An Garda Síochána would then call for assistance from the Defence Forces Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Teams who are on call 24/7 and who deal with the normal range of Explosive Ordnance Disposal /Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (EOD/IEDD) calls. These Teams will deal with the incident and mitigate the situation if possible, utilising the compendium of specialised CBRN related equipment at their disposal.

If, however, the problem is beyond the scope and resources of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Teams the national response team, the CBRNe Improvised Device Disposal (IDD) Team, may be deployed. Ireland’s Strategic Emergency Planning Guidance document sets out each Departments and Agencies responsibility in such an incident.

Defence Forces personnel will contribute alongside other response agencies, for example, the Fire Service fulfils the role for decontamination; An Garda Síochána fulfils the role for incident control, and so on.

Four exercise vignettes will take place over the coming two days of the conference. These will follow the algorithm of CBRN Incident Escalation Management as laid out in Ireland’s National Protocol for Responding to a Malign CBRN Incident. This Protocol document is a national level strategic document and is kept under review by a Subgroup of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning. The exercise vignettes will see the coordinated integration of the Defence Forces CBRNe IDD Team, the US 773 Civil Support Team, the UK Hazardous Area Response Team and the French Sapeurs Pompiers de Paris.

One of the Ireland’s priorities during our EU Presidency is the development of capabilities in support of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) through enhanced cooperation between the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the European Commission in research and innovation in the security sector. Ireland supports the development of new proposals that enhance such cooperation, particularly those supporting increased involvement of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs).

The EDA and the Commission launched a European Framework for Cooperation, together with the European Space Agency, in 2010, to maximise synergies across civilian security, space and defence-related research programmes. In 2010, the EDA Member States also approved a “Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear” – Joint Investment Programme within this Framework. Ireland, along with 12 other Member States, joined this programme in 2011.

Our primary reason for involvement is to ensure the safety and improved capacity of the Defence Forces operating in a CBRN environment. In order to maximise these opportunities, the Defence Organisation regularly engages with Enterprise Ireland who promote and assist Irish Industry and Research Institution involvement in potential contract opportunities arising from such programmes.

I am delighted with the involvement of Enterprise Ireland, the Defence Forces and the Irish security research network SERENITY as supporting partners for this event. Enterprise Ireland is the Government organisation responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets.

It works in partnership with Irish enterprises, particularly SMEs, to help them start, grow, innovate and win export sales in an ever increasing global market place. In this way, they support sustainable economic growth, regional development and secure employment. Ireland is also very well placed to service this sector with a highly skilled and well educated workforce, particularly our university graduates in the various sciences. I hope that the conference and exhibition will lead to further growth and employment in this extremely technical sector here in Ireland.

Similarly, SERENITY acts as a point of contact for looking at possibilities of EU funding and participation in FP7 projects to help develop research and development in the security sector and ultimately increase exports.

The Defence Forces are also a supporting partner of the conference. The Defence Forces are at the forefront of the CBRN response in Ireland, and provide the State with key response expertise in this field.

I must also welcome those who attended the European Defence Agency’s successful workshop held here yesterday on ‘Testing and Evaluation Standards for CBRN Detection’. This event provided a valuable opportunity for officials from the EDA and some participating Member States to also attend this event.

The ‘All Hazards Response’ conference, I am sure, will strive to build on this success and increased awareness in the field of CBRN, particularly in dealing with possible complex catastrophes. I am delighted to see such an array of international exhibitors here in Dublin. I welcome each of the foreign teams participating to Dublin and hope that you all gain from this experience, both on a professional level but also on a personal level and that you all enjoy the warmth of the Irish welcome, particularly at this Gathering 2013 event.

Over 70 million people worldwide claim Irish ancestry and the Gathering Ireland 2013, of which this is an official event, provides the perfect excuse to reach out to those who have moved away, their relatives, friends and descendants, and to invite them home. Communities throughout Ireland are showcasing and sharing the very best of Irish culture, tradition, business, sport, fighting spirit and the uniquely Irish sense of fun and I hope that this conference generates an insight for you into Ireland as a good place to carry out your business.

I would like to wish CBRNe World and all of you participating all the best for the coming days and hope that the conference, exercises and exhibitions live up to your expectations.


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