Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (1592)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Question:

1592. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to introduce an assistance package for those who lost their homes and other property in the recent wildfires in west County Donegal in addition to other parts of the country; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a great deal of hardship and loss has occurred due to these wildfires and many persons are severely disadvantaged through no fault of their own; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20017/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Despite all the efforts of the fire and emergency services and local farming communities, using controlled burning at appropriate times of the year, wildland fires can unfortunately occur in certain areas of the country at dry times of the year. Where such fires result in the loss of property, particularly peoples family homes or livelihoods, this can be devastating. The priority of fire services in responding to all such incidents is the protection of life in local communities and among emergency responders. An important secondary objective is working with local communities to try to protect family homes and other property, where it is safe to do so.

Considerable inter-agency efforts have been made to reduce the incidence of wildland fires, led by my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, whose Department monitors conditions and issues wildland fire warning notices, That Department has led inter-agency reviews with a view to enhancing the mitigation of wildland/gorse fires. It is imperative that communities and relevant bodies continue to work together to seek to prevent and control wildland fires.

Unfortunately, the deliberate setting of wildfires can also occur. I encourage people in communities affected by wildland fires to join in efforts to prevent such fires being started and to assist An Garda Síochána in trying to establish and bring to justice anyone who recklessly and deliberately sets wildland fires, thereby threatening the lives, property and the environment of those in the local community and further afield.

The emergency response to such wildfires is subject to well established arrangements where local authority fire services may, through the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management (NDFEM) in my Department, request the assistance of the Defence Forces. This kind of support provided to local authority fire services by the Defence Forces in wildland fire-fighting has been very effective and is greatly appreciated.

Where a loss of property occurs in a fire, insurance is the normal means by which persons seek to recover such losses. Neither I nor my Department have any role in providing assistance to households that incur losses due to fires.

Question No. 1593 answered with Question No. 1511.