My Department supports the "Be Winter ready" initiative as Lead Government Department for emergency scenarios involving severe weather and flooding. In this regard, the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management (NDFEM) and Met Éireann provide leadership in terms of forecasting and response.
The NDFEM has a Crisis Management Team in place that works closely with Met Éireann to monitor weather and to provide early warning of weather events to the relevant agencies to enable a state of preparedness.
Met Éireann has a critical role in issuing weather forecasts and warnings for Ireland. Weather advisories and weather warnings are very important communication tools and it is imperative that people are informed about what they mean and the action that should be taken on foot of such warnings. A key emphasis of this year’s “Be Winter Ready” campaign is around further enhancing awareness around the colour-coded weather warnings. Met Éireann developed a brochure for this year's "Be Winter Ready" campaign highlighting the colour coded warnings and what each means.
In terms of the response, my Department works closely with local authorities to ensure that they are ready for the winter season ahead. In particular, in terms of housing and homelessness the Cold Weather Initiative involves the provision of additional beds to ensure that there is adequate capacity to cope with additional demand due to colder temperatures. The Initiative also involves extended opening hours for facilities that do not normally operate on a 24-hour basis and additional outreach activity to encourage rough sleepers to avail of accommodation.
Rough sleeping is mainly concentrated in the urban regions and significant work has been carried out under Rebuilding Ireland to increase the availability of emergency accommodation. In December 2015, the number of emergency beds for single people in Dublin was 1,500. By December 2018, this had increased to over 2,300. My Department is working with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive to deliver 300 additional emergency beds this winter, with 150 beds already in place and the majority of the 300 beds to be in place before Christmas. A further 50 contingency beds are available to ensure that there will be sufficient beds available for all that require shelter. Specific measures are being put in place throughout all the regions.
My Department incurred no consultancy, advertising or other costs on the "Be Winter Ready" initiative.