05 Dec 2021

Longford's Council chief explains civil defence absence during Storm Emma

Paddy Mahon

Longford County Council CEO Paddy Mahon

The head of Longford County Council has confirmed issues surrounding health and safety measures was the main factor behind the absence of Civil Defence volunteers carrying out front line duties during Storm Emma.

Media reports during the height of the siberian weather front suggested local authority officials had instructed members aligned to the civil defence not to take part in rescue efforts since they hadn't completed appropriate health and safety training for working in inclement weather.

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.

A statement issued to the Leader at the time claimed members connected to the Civil Defence were not in a position to carry out “certain duties at this time.”

It was an admission which led Cllr Mae Sexton to query the matter at last week’s monthly council meeting.

In response, Chief Executive Paddy Mahon attempted to verify the Council’s position, insisting the local authority was compelled to follow correct work practices in events of such magnitude.

“Before we carry out works we have to make sure the proper risk assessments are in place and before we carry out any works particularly in an environment where we have got a yellow weather alert escalated to a red virtually overnight a dynamic risk assessment must be carried out and that informs the decision you are making,” he said.

“We have to make sure the people who are working on behalf of ourselves are in the right place to deal with what mother nature was asking.”

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