Army divide highlighted in Kildare weather battle

Curragh based Defence Forces confined to certain area during storm

Henry Bauress

Reporter:

Henry Bauress

Email:

henry.bauress@leinsterleader.ie

Army divide highlighted in Kildare weather battle

File Photo

The use of the Defence Forces from the Curragh was limited to certain areas of county Kildare during Storm Emma and some areas in north east Kildare did not get aid from them, Kildare County Council’s monthly meeting was told on March 26.

In a discussion on a report from highly praised Director of Services, Niall Morrissey, described as “the Minister for Snow” at the meeting, it emerged that Defence Forces members were confined by their own rules from covering certain areas.

The Leixlip and Celbridge areas were due to be served from an army base in Dublin.

In the course of a detailed report, in which he said that many people had performed heroically during the storm, Mr Morrissey said the Defence Forces supplied two snow ploughs, four four-wheel drive vehicles and 60 army personnel.

“Their superiors communicated on a regular basis with the Director of Services and the municipal district engineers.

He continued: “The Defence Forces concentrated their efforts on the Curragh, Newbridge, Naas, Kill, Sallins, Clane and Maynooth and focussed on work such as clearing footpaths, schools, elderly accommodation, hospitals, etc.

“It is important to note that the Defence Forces try to stay within a reasonable distance of their base and are only available for a limited number of hours each day. In addition the battalion based in the Curragh are only allowed to be deployed in an area which is bounded in a northerly direction by Clane.

“The Celbridge Leixlip MD is covered by a Dublin based battalion who were only made available to KCC towards the end of the response period. At that stage Celbridge and Leixlip were in a better condition than Maynooth and hence we requested their assistance in Maynooth.”

The Civil Defence and the Coast Guard helicopter service was engaged to assist an emergency medical case and also a

special Dublin Civil Defence vehicle was used to access an emergency case in the Kilteel area.

Mr Morrissey said there were in excess of 100 machines active throughout the clean up period.

“Dublin City Council also offered KCC machinery when they had no further use for the machinery in their own area.”

Mr Morrissey said the Council also ruled out declaring a Major Emergency.

“During the period of the response consideration was given to declaring a Major Emergency however it was agreed by the Crisis Management Team that all possible resources were already at our disposal i.e. An Garda Síochana, HSE and the Defence Forces and therefore the declaration of a Major Emergency would only lead to unnecessary panic among the general public, and not result in any excess equipment or personnel being made available to KCC.”