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Leaders' Questions

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 960 No. 4

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  2 o’clock

Leaders' Questions

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin As the country is recovering from and absorbing the impact of Storm Ophelia, I take the opportunity to offer my sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives - Clare O'Neill from Waterford, a cancer nurse, who was driving her mother home; Michael Pyke from Cahir who was attempting to clear the road for his neighbours, and Fintan Goss who was on his way home to his family - all of whom lost their lives so tragically. Their deaths illustrate the serious nature of the devastating storm and the importance of the work of first responders and the national emergency co-ordination group, chaired by Mr. Sean Hogan. I pay tribute to them and Mr. Hogan who calmly and diligently, with all those involved, worked to protect the people and minimise the damage, above all, to them and, secondly, to property. First responders deserve great credit - members of An Garda Síochána, fire service personnel, members of the Army and Civil Defence, as well as the ESB and, particularly, local authorities, local councils, which co-ordinated the emergency efforts at county and local level, again to minimise loss of live and damage. The national broadcaster, RTÉ, with TV3, local radio stations and the media, played a very important public service role in disseminating information to the public at large. Above all, Met Éireann played a very important role. It nailed it in its forecasting in advance of the storm and its work throughout to keep people briefed. If any organisation deserves substantial resources from here on, it is Met Éireann. I put it to the Taoiseach that this needs to happen.

In the light of this, I ask the Taoiseach to ensure a comprehensive evaluation of our preparations for and response to Storm Ophelia will take place. That is important when an event of this magnitude occurs. We know that ESB crews are out bravely restoring power to people's homes. Water supplies and so on are also being restored. I also ask that a national audit be undertaken by the local authorities. Will the Taoiseach initiate such an audit in the context of providing ring-fenced funding to deal with damaged and dangerous trees? Many communities and pensioners will not be in a position to fund the cutting down of dangerous trees, of which there will be many around the country because of the impact of the storm.

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