Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Department of Defence
National Emergency Plan
Question 127: To ask the Minister for Defence when a major emergency was last simulated; the results from this exercise; if weaknesses in emergency planning were uncovered as a part of this trial; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8687/07]
Question 152: To ask the Minister for Defence if a structured exercise programme is in place for 2007; the nature of these exercises; if these will be open to the media; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8635/07]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 109, 127 and 152 together.
As the Deputy will be aware, specific responsibility for emergency planning functions remains with the relevant lead government department and it is a matter for each department to implement its own structured exercise programme. It is also the responsibility for the lead department organising the exercise to decide who should attend, including whether it is appropriate to have representatives of the media in attendance.
As Chairman of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning, I have stressed, on many occasions, the importance that I attach to departments and key public authorities having structured exercise programmes in place. In December 2006, I wrote to my Government colleagues asking that they take whatever action is necessary to ensure that, where appropriate, a comprehensive and well organised structured exercise programme is put in place in their Department for 2007.
I am aware that departments and public authorities engage in regular exercises of emergency plans on an ongoing basis. In this regard, I attended an inter-agency simulated response to a Chemical Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) incident, which was exercised in the Curragh Camp in November 2006. This scenario incorporated the actions and responses of the various agencies as outlined in 'A Framework for Major Emergency Management'.