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STRATEGIC PLAN 2010 - 2013

Civil Defence Headquarters, Roscrea 18 June 2010

Chairman and Members of the Civil Defence Board, Managers, Civil Defence Officers, Volunteers, Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to be here today for the official launch of the Civil Defence Board’s third Strategic Plan covering the 3 year period to 2013.

Today’s launch brings to fruition the plan which involved many hours of hard work by the Board, its Committees and Staff. It is good to see so many Board Members, Civil Defence Officers and Volunteers here today – you are all very welcome.

The Plan is also the culmination of a wide ranging consultation process involving local authorities and their Civil Defence Officers, external Agencies and Departments, and particularly the volunteers on the ground who are the lifeblood of the organisation. It was a great learning exercise for the Board to hear views from all areas of the country and I would like to thank all of you for your input to this Plan.

The main goal of this Strategic Plan is to plot the road forward for Civil Defence in positioning the organisation for the future and allowing it to realise its maximum development potential.

When you read this comprehensive strategy, it is very obvious that the Board, its staff and the local authorities and their Civil Defence Officers are committed to providing a quality service and to ensuring that every volunteer is trained to the highest international standards.

The strategy presented here today clearly sets out the role of the Civil Defence Board which is
To develop the skills of over 3,000 trained Volunteers;
To prioritise training programmes to reflect the roles for Civil Defence within the context of the Framework for Major Emergency Management and the regulatory environment, including health and safety, and providing the necessary resources to enable that.
To work with the front-line services and with local, regional and national authorities to ensure a co-ordinated response to major emergencies;
To continue to develop the support services that Civil Defence provides to local communities;

On days such as today, we should take the opportunity to acknowledge that Civil Defence is a volunteer-based organisation and that all volunteer members give freely of their time to acquire skills that will be vital to the local community in times of need. Acquiring these skills involves many hours of training. It is this selflessness and dedication that once again demonstrates the wonderful voluntary ethos that is at the very core of the Civil Defence organisation.

This was most evident last winter when Civil Defence provided valued and appreciated support to our communities and frontline services during the course of the ‘Flooding’ and ‘Big Freeze’ crises. At this remove we can recall with pride the pictures of Civil Defence members rescuing people stranded in floods in many parts of the country such as Ballinasloe; Athlone; Carlow; Leitrim; Roscommon; Kildare; and Ennis and Shannon Banks in my own county of Clare or traversing across the snow-covered gaps of the Wicklow mountains in their All Terrain Vehicle (ATV). The blue and orange colours of Civil Defence were a welcome sight to many a community during that period and gave the whole country a real appreciation of the capabilities and dedication of Civil Defence Volunteers

The “Big Flood and “Big Freeze” crises were huge sustained operations for a volunteer-based organisation. On conservative estimate almost 19,000 man-hours of voluntary effort was delivered by Civil Defence members during the course of those events alone.

Unfortunately the expert advice is that the incidence of extreme weather events is likely to be a risk for the foreseeable future. It is a great comfort to local communities, local authorities and to the State to know that such a resource is available to them to mitigate the effects of similar emergencies should they recur.

Civil Defence is unique in that the organisation can offer a volunteer member the potential to acquire a wide variety of skills from: Casualty/First Aid; Rescue; Fire fighting; Radiation detection & monitoring to Radio Communications and Welfare. In that regard, state of the art training facilities have been established here at Civil Defence Headquarters and at the Phoenix Training Centre in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

The Civil Defence College is now a recognised certifying body for the preparation and delivery of courses approved by statutory and other national bodies such as FETAC (Further Education & Training Awards Council, PHECC (Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council) and the IHF (Irish Heart Foundation). The diverse range of training available to Volunteers is also of great assistance to them in developing career opportunities outside of Civil Defence.

The Board has identified six major Strategic Objectives for implementation over the life of the Plan. As the Minister responsible for the co-ordination of national emergency planning, I appreciate the high priority given by the Board to optimise Civil Defence input into Major Emergency Management at national, regional and local authority level. I am also pleased to note the intention of the Board to maximise Civil Defence involvement in national emergency planning and delivery in co-operation with all relevant Departments, bodies and agencies. I am encouraged by the openness to change and the willingness to embrace new tasks and new challenges which is evident right throughout the strategy and its underlying philosophy.

Of course, the Board can only implement their development plans with the co-operation and support of each and every local authority. I would like to use this opportunity to acknowledge the tremendous support that local authorities give to Civil Defence on an ongoing basis, illustrated again by the presence here today of Civil Defence Officers from all over Ireland.

Civil Defence in Ireland has an outstanding record of almost sixty years of service to local communities and to the whole country in times of emergency. I believe that implementing this Plan will help to make a good organisation even better and, as Minister with responsibility for Civil Defence, I can assure the Chairman, Joe Meagher, the Board and each and every member of the organisation that the Government is committed in continuing to support your efforts.

I would now like to formally launch the new Strategic Plan and to wish the Board and all Civil Defence members continued success in the future.

Thank you very much.

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