Dáil Éireann - Volume 638 - 04 October, 2007

Written Answers. - Civil Defence Board.

[1812] Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Defence his proposals to support the work of the Civil Defence and to encourage increased membership of the Civil Defence. [21987/07]

  Deputy Willie O’Dea: The Civil Defence Board was established in 2003 and is charged with the development and management of the organisation at National level. The Board is obliged to submit its Strategic Plan to me for approval every three years.

I recently launched the 2nd Strategic Plan of the Civil Defence Board which covers the period 2007-2010 and which has been laid before the House. I was very encouraged by the strategies identified by the Board for the management and development of Civil Defence to 2010 and beyond.

As the Minister with responsibility for the co-ordination of National Emergency Planning arrangements, I was very encouraged to note that the Board places such a high priority on involvement in the Major Emergency Management Framework, which identifies a wider role for Civil Defence in emergency response. Civil Defence volunteers are an important support to the front-line emergency services.

In approving the Plan, I have asked the Board to prioritise the development of the enhanced electronic Register of Volunteers for the purpose of planning and allocation of resources.

I propose to maintain the level of funding which has been made available to the Civil Defence Board in recent years. In 2007 the Board received a grant from my Department of €6.099 million. In addition to that, I have asked the Board for their proposals with regard to development of a new Training Range at their headquarters in Roscrea, and the refurbishment of the existing Training Range at Ratra House, Phoenix Park. Furthermore, I understand from the Board that a proposal for a programme of improvements to accommodation and training facilities at local authority level for volunteers is under development.

The funding that I have provided to the Civil Defence Board has enabled the organisation to equip volunteers to a high standard. In this regard, in late 2006, I launched the new Civil Defence workwear which meets European safety standards in terms of visibility while modernising the image of the organisation. In order to attract and retain members, it is essential that the organisation meets the highest standards of professionalism.

Since 2000, considerable expenditure on equipment such as vehicles, boats, training, medical, rescue and communications equipment, has helped to transform Civil Defence into a modern multi-functional emergency response organisation. Marketing of this capability is an important strategy in meeting the target of increasing membership by 10% by 2010 as identified by the Board. In terms of professional training, I fully [1813] support the Board’s strategy in seeking external accreditation of Civil Defence training courses.