Saturday 21 July 2018

Ministers given notes and told how to speak publicly about heatwave

In a leaked memo, seen by Independent.ie, ministers were told to tell people to “enjoy the weather” but “heed the advice” of agencies warning about the dangers of the record heat

Enjoying the heatwave in Ballina and Killaloe Pic:Mark Condren
Enjoying the heatwave in Ballina and Killaloe Pic:Mark Condren
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

GOVERNMENT ministers have been given speaking notes and told how to speak publicly about the heatwave as soaring temperatures continue to rise across the country.

In a leaked memo, seen by Independent.ie, ministers were told to tell people to “enjoy the weather” but “heed the advice” of agencies warning about the dangers of the record heat.

Among the “top lines” provided to ministers are suggested comments on water conversation along with advice on taking care of older and vulnerable people during the heatwave.

The politicians were told to tell people to conserve water by taking shorter showers and ensuring dishwashers and washing machines are fully loaded.

Ministers were even provided with detailed notes on how to speak about the weather forecast for the coming days.

The document says temperatures will “continue to climb over the next few days peaking on Thursday and Friday”.

The memo says a rolling status Yellow warning from Met Eireann will remain in place for the week but could be elevated to an Orange alert if temperatures go above 30c

Ministers were told the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, which is the lead department for severe weather emergencies, has been “monitoring the evolving weather situation”.

It also says the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management’s Severe Weather Assessment Team has been liaising with Met Eireann’s forecasters since last week and other relevant agencies such as the HSE and Irish Water.

“The National Directorate will continue to liaise with Met Eireann in the days ahead to monitor the likely evolution of the weather situation,” it added.

The memo tells ministers to urge people to “wear sunscreen, drink plenty of cold drinks and avoid excess alcohol and caffeine”.

“Please keep an eye on isolated, elderly, ill or very young people and make sure they are able to keep cool. Ensure that babies, children or elderly people are not left alone in stationary cars and check on elderly or sick neighbours, family or friends every day during a heat wave. Be alert and call a doctor or social services if someone is unwell or further help is needed,” it added.

Under a section of the memo labelled “homeless persons”, ministers are told homeless agencies have been providing water and sun block to those experiencing homeless and  been caring for rough sleepers.

“All shelters and emergency facilities are being kept open during this hot spell so that those who wish to stay indoors can do so.

“The emergency plan for homeless individuals has been activated and all supports required are being provided,” it added.

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