Monday 16 July 2018

'Make it illegal' to disobey the safety authorities during an emergency – Micheál Martin tells Dáil

'There was a lot of anger that the lives of first responders were put at risk' - Micheál Martin
'There was a lot of anger that the lives of first responders were put at risk' - Micheál Martin
John Downing

John Downing

IT should be illegal to disobey the safety authorities and put rescue personnel at risk during emergencies like Storm Ophelia, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said.

The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, led tributes to the emergency services during a special debate on the aftermath of the storm. 

Mr Varadkar also led expressions of sympathy from all parties and Independent TDs to the memory of the three people who died in Monday’s storm, Claire O’Neill, Fintan Goss and Michael Pyke.

The Fianna Fáil leader said all parties should cooperate in bringing in all legislation to prevent people taking undue risks against safety advice. He referred to several incidents during the storm.

“There was a lot of anger that the lives of first responders were put at risk,” Mr Martin said.

Paying tribute to the response, Mr Martin urged a national census of dangerous trees and he also warned that the storm was a reminder to Ireland to increase efforts to deal with global warming.

“It’s a reminder that the Atlantic is warming and the frequency and the intensity of storms such as this will increase,” the Fianna Fáil leader added.

The Taoiseach said he shared the dismay of people about those who put emergency services personnel at risk by foolish actions. He said it was the worst storm in recent years to be dealt with by the emergency services.

Mr Varadkar said 6,700 people and contractors were now working on a clear-up and restoring services like power.  He said extra power crews, from the North, Britain and France, were trying to restore electricity as soon as possible.

There were expressions of sympathy to bereaved families from Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Fein, Labour leader, Brendan Howlin, and Michael Healy-Rae from the Rural Independent Alliance.

Paying tribute to the emergency services, Mr Howlin said there must be more clarity for workers and employers about what happens when “a national red alert” is triggered.

The Taoiseach said that it was Ireland’s first ever national red alert and he agreed there must be more clarity on procedures for workers in the private sector especially.

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