In 2001 certain Government structures were put in place to support emergency planning in Ireland and to improve co-ordination across the various existing national emergency plans.
The Government Task Force on Emergency Planning is the top-level structure which gives policy and direction, and which co-ordinates and oversees the emergency planning activities of all Government departments and public authorities. It promotes the best possible use of resources and compatibility across different planning requirements.
The Minister for Defence chairs the Government Task Force, which includes ministers, senior officials of Government departments, senior officers of the Defence Forces, An Garda Síochána and officials of other key public authorities which have a lead or support role in Government Emergency Planning.
The Office of Emergency Planning provides a key support role to the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning. It is responsible to the Minister for Defence for the co-ordination and oversight of emergency planning. Some key activities of the OEP are to refine and develop the arrangements that exist, to continuously improve them through review and revision and to generally provide the basis for an increased confidence in the emergency planning process.
The OEP encompasses both civil and military staff and is located in the Department of Defence.
The OEP chairs the Government Task Force Subgroups on Emergency Planning. The Subgroups comprise officials representing Government departments and public authorities with lead or principal support roles in Government emergency plans. The Government Task Force charges the Subgroups with carrying out specific studies and developing particular aspects of emergency planning.
The Subgroups are the means by which expertise is shared between Government departments and public authorities on emergency planning. The Subgroups address, on an ongoing basis, emergency planning matters with a view to minimising the potential consequences of any given emergency.
At all times the lead responsibility for specific emergency planning functions remains with the relevant Government departments. When an emergency occurs, the appropriate emergency plan is set into operation with the relevant department taking the lead in its implementation.