1. What is the Office of Emergency Planning and what does it do?

It supports the Minister for Defence who chairs the GTF on Emergency Planning. It has an oversight function on emergency planning and supports the Minister for Defence in preparing his an annual report to government on emergency planning. 
It promotes coordination amongst departments in their emergency planning and encourages best use of resources.

2. What is role of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning?

The Task Force, which is chaired by the Minister for Defence, is made up of the Ministers and/or senior officials of all Government Departments and key public authorities. It is the top-level structure that examines policy issues and any current risks and it ensures that information is shared across government. It promotes the best use of resources and compatibility between different emergency plans.

But the central principle of emergency planning in Ireland is that it is the relevant Government Department or agency that will take the lead in the event of an emergency. For instance, in the event of an animal disease outbreak the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine takes the lead, in the event of a flu pandemic the Department of Health and HSE would take the lead etc.

3. Are we part of a group of countries that are addressing emergencies in Europe or the Western World?

Each individual Government Department and state agency is in constant contact with relevant international agencies. In the case of the Department of Health and the HSE, for example, there are contacts with the World Health Organisation and the European Centre for Disease Control.

4. Why establish the National Emergency Co-ordination Centre?

The proposal to establish the Centre was submitted by the Minister for the Environment Community and Local Government following from a recommendation ERM Consultancy Report, which examined the simulated exercise of the National Emergency Plan for Nuclear Accidents.

The Centre is available to all government departments. It has robust communications systems and facilities for an incident room and meetings rooms for coordinating a strategic response to a major emergency. The Centre was used during the flooding in November 2009 and the severe weather in January 2010.

5. What about plans to deal with major emergencies at local/regional level, who prepares them?

A Major Emergency is an incident, which, usually with little or no warning, causes or threatens, death or injury, serious disruption of essential services or damage to property beyond the normal capabilities of the Principal Response Agencies (PRAs). In these circumstances the PRAs put special arrangements in place and mobilise additional resources – as provided in the Framework for Major Emergency Management.