Written answers

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Department of Defence

National Emergency Plan

8:00 pm

Photo of Seán ConnickSeán Connick (Wexford, Fianna Fail)
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Question 96: To ask the Minister for Defence when the task force on emergency planning last met; the items discussed; if there is a programme of simulated exercises in place for 2009; the nature of these exercises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17748/09]

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Minister, Department of Defence; Limerick East, Fianna Fail)
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I chair the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning which includes Ministers, senior officials of government departments, senior officers of An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces and officials of other key public authorities, which have a lead or support role in Government emergency planning. The Government Task Force meets on a regular basis. The most recent meeting took place last week, on Wednesday 29th April.

While the details of matters discussed at meetings of the Government Task Force are confidential, I can confirm that the Task Force examines current risks and supports coordination arrangements for emergency planning across Government. At last week's meeting, the Task Force received a comprehensive presentation from the Department of Health and Children on the public health situation with regard to human cases of influenza type A H1N1 (Human Swine influenza). Also, each meeting of the Task Force has, as a standing agenda item, an assessment of the current security threat, which is provided by An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces.

With regard to simulated exercises, I have, on many occasions stressed to the members of the Task Force the importance of conducting regular exercises. Departments have submitted details of their exercise plans for the current year. These are strategic exercises, varied in nature, and include table-top and live exercises. This year, exercises are being conducted in areas such as search and rescue, pollution control, airport and other transport emergencies and exercises aimed at testing inter-agency communication arrangements.

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