A number of locally elected politicians have come out strongly against media reports this morning over Longford County Council's decision to prohibit civil defence volunteers from taking part in relief efforts during Storm Emma.
Media reports this morning suggested local authority officials had instructed members aligned to the civil defence not to take part in rescue efforts over a failure to complete appropriate health and safety training for working in inclement weather conditions.
It was claimed over 30 civil defence volunteers were instructed not to take part in rescue and support work in the community with up to six 4x4 vehicles lying idle as a consequence.
In a statement, Longford County Council confirmed civil defence personnel had been informed to refrain from taking part in rescue efforts but stopped short of indicating what sparked the move.
"With regard to community support , Longford Civil Defence are not in a position to carry out certain duties at this time," read a statement.
"Longford County Council is grateful that the Army has been able to provide the necessary supports instead.
"Longford Civil Defence vehicles and equipment are available to the Army if required."
However, a number of local politicians angrily countered those claims when contacted by longfordleader.ie this afternoon.
Cathaoirleach Cllr Martin Mulleady said the reports had been blown out of proportion, adding the army, together with local gardaí and fire emergency services were more than managing to cope with the fallout from Storm Emma.
Cllr Mulleady also revealed gardaí had already successfully managed to transport a woman to her home in Cullyfad earlier today.
He also contended gardaí had been given access to the Civil Defence's fleet of 4x4's if and when they need them, an assertion which senior garda bosses confirmed to the Leader this afternoon.
"The guards, the army, the Council and fire services are out and about but let's be clear here no one will be out after 4pm after the (Red Status) warnings which have already been given," he said.
Cllr Mark Casey was equally aggrieved at the reports, slamming the revelations as little more than "lazy journalism."
He said: "This is not national news. They obviously couldn't find a better story, so they went with this. It's what I would call lazy and very poor journalism."
Supt Jim Delaney confirmed gardaí had been given access to the Civil Defence's fleet of 4x4's should any situation arise where they are needed, but said at the moment his team of officers together with other emergency responders were more than adequately coping with the storm conditions.
"All I can say is it's been business as usual in the (Longford) Garda Station today," he said.
"There have been a few minor incidents but nothing out of the ordinary and that's down to the advance warnings that were given by the National Emergency Co-Ordination Group.
"I think people have heeded those warnings and the County Council have been out throughout the day with their snow ploughs.
"It's that combined effort on behalf of State agencies which has certainly helped in dealing with the situation," he said.
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