Monday 19 February 2018

National emergency was never declared

Paul Melia

THE National Emergency Response Coordination Committee (NERCC) met daily during the weather crisis as large parts of the country lay under standing or frozen water.

But despite the extent of the crisis that affected every county, a national emergency was not declared.

The NERCC is chaired by an officer in the Department of the Environment, Sean Hogan.

The report expressed "dissatisfaction" that Mr Hogan held this position, adding that no judgment was being passed on Mr Hogan's performance, abilities or qualifications.

The report found the national emergency plan came into force in 2008 but was "complex and confusing".

Mr Hogan told the committee the Department of the Environment began monitoring potential flooding across the country from November 19 -- the same day Cork City was flooded -- but the NERCC was not convened until the next day.

The committee continued to meet until December 8, after which it stood down because the flood waters subsided.

Following the outbreak of the severe cold weather, local authorities began gritting roads to keep them ice-free. By January 2, large swathes of the country came to a standstill. The national response was muted.

On January 6, Environment Minister John Gormley was asked to activate the coordination mechanisms as during the November flooding.

Mr Hogan could not confirm if a major emergency was formally declared in relation to the November flooding or during the Big Freeze.

Irish Independent

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