Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (65)

James Lawless

Question:

65. Deputy James Lawless asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the role and functions of the Civil Defence; if there will be forthcoming changes to these roles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19182/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

Government policy on Civil Defence is set out in the 2015 Government White Paper on Defence. This states that the central strategic objective of Civil Defence is to support the Principal Response Agencies of the Local Authorities, An Gardaí Síochána and the Health Service Executive in a variety of emergency and non-emergency situations. A large number of support roles for Civil Defence are listed under the Framework for Major Emergency Management. These include assisting in dealing with a wide range of emergencies at national and local level and include severe weather, flooding and searches for missing persons.

In addition to supporting the Principal Response Agencies, Civil Defence has a long and proud tradition of assisting at community events. These events allow Civil Defence volunteers practice their skills while contributing to their community.

In September 2018, I announced a review of the roles and functions of Civil Defence. The review will inform the commitment in the 2015 Government White Paper on Defence to update Civil Defence legislation. The outcome of the review will be a policy document titled "Towards 2030". The document will be an update on the existing "Towards 2000" document which dates from the mid 1990s. Given the passage of time and the changes within the organisation and society in general since the mid 1990s, it is an opportune and appropriate time for this review.

The review process has involved a wide ranging consultation with all relevant stakeholders. This commenced with a workshop with Civil Defence Officers and Assistant Civil Defence Officers in September 2018.

Following this, I announced a series of eight regional volunteer consultation meetings throughout the country in October and November. This was to allow Civil Defence volunteers have their say on the future of the organisation in which they so passionately serve and give freely of their time and expertise. My officials have also held meetings with the relevant subcommittee of the City and County Managers Association, the Health Service Executive, An Gardaí Síochána and the Fire Directorate of the Department of the Housing, Planning and Local Government.

A draft discussion document on Towards 2030 was circulated to all Civil Defence Officers, Assistant Civil Defence Officers and their line managers within Local Authorities in early April 2019 in advance of a series of regional meetings in April 2019.

Observations and comments from these regional meetings will feed into an updated draft of Towards 2030 that will be re-circulated to Civil Defence Officers, Assistant Civil Defence Officers and their line managers members this month. That draft will also be circulated to members of the Civil Defence Inter Agency Guidance Team in advance of the forthcoming meeting of this group. The Guidance Team was established on foot of the 2015 Government White Paper on Defence.

As the development of Towards 2030 progresses, my officials and I will continue to engage with Stakeholders. I have asked my officials to submit a final draft of Towards 2030 by Autumn 2019 for my consideration.