Tuesday, 13 November 2001
Dáil Eireann Debate
450. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the role he will play in co-ordinating efforts in the activation of major accident or disaster plans; the extent to which overall responsibility in these matters rests with his Department; his plans to meet the requirements of such a situation; the anticipated call-out time of the various services under his control; if he is satisfied with the adequacy of such plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23528/01]
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): Major emergency planning is based on a Government framework for a co-ordinated response of the front line agencies, local authorities including the fire service, the Garda Síochána, health services and other agencies such as utilities and the voluntary sector who may be called on to assist. In the light of recent events, the Government established a task force on emergency planning, under the chairmanship of my colleague the Minister for Defence, which meets on a regular basis to ensure that preparations are in place for a co-ordinated response to possible nuclear, chemical or biological threats. In addition, the Office of Emergency Planning has been established in the Department of Defence to take a lead role in emergency planning to meet the new threat from international terrorism, including co-ordination of the responses by the various agencies involved.
As far as my Department is concerned, my officials are members of various committees on dealing with major emergencies. In addition, the  Garda Síochána has a major emergency plan in place in respect of each Garda division. I am advised by the Garda authorities that these plans are up to date and ready for immediate implementation.
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