The Extreme Weather (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2018 has been proposed in the Dáil, but has not been prioritized by the Taoiseach.
The Bill, proposed by Sinn Féin, seeks to protect workers and employers and first responders who are faced with an extreme weather event.
It proposes that when a status red severe weather warning in effect, it will be made an offence to act “recklessly or without reasonable cause or excuse and engages in any activity that directly or indirectly.” If convicted, the person could face up to 6 months in prison and may be liable to a class D fine, or both.
This includes people who endanger their own life/the life of any other person, including emergency services personnel, by engaging in reckless activities.
Debate surrounding the endangerment of emergency services personnel erupted during Met Eireann’s last status red warning, for Hurricane Ophelia. Many raised concern after a pensioner decided to go swimming at Salthill during the storm. Although he did not have to be rescued, his behaviour was criticised by the authorities and locals.
The Bill also proposes that during a status red weather alert, the event should be treated as a public holiday and people should be allowed to take a paid day off.
Speaking after discussing the Bill with an Taoiseach in the Dáil yesterday afternoon, SF Deputy Imelda Munster said:
“We are expected to experience a severe weather event this week. This weather event will make life very difficult for vulnerable members of society, and also for those who may feel obliged to travel to work in poor weather conditions.
“At the beginning of the month, my colleagues Gerry Adams TD and David Cullinane TD and I introduced the Extreme Weather Warning (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2018 in order to provide certainty for workers, employers and the emergency services during an extreme weather event.
“The confusion during Storm Ophelia regarding what actions employers and workers in the private sector and self-employed persons should take during an extreme weather warning had tragic consequences.
“This Bill will provide for the safety of employees during certain severe weather warnings. It will enhance public safety and ensure the safety of rescue service personnel during such a weather warning.
“The Bill would also impose penalties on those who would put lives in danger through reckless behaviour when an extreme weather warning has been called. It seeks to give an Garda Síochána enhanced powers to pursue such behaviour.
“This afternoon in the Dáil, I asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to prioritise this legislation and bring the bill to second stage this week. The Taoiseach declined to facilitate my request.
“As legislators, we must do everything we can to guide employers, protect workers, and strengthen the powers of emergency services in the case of severe weather warnings in order to prevent future tragedies.
“As we face into what is forecast to be a severe weather event, the Taoiseach’s lack of action on this matter is very disappointing.”
Reiterating his colleague’s comment, Gerry Adams TD today added that he is also “disappointed” by the Taoiseach’s response.
“Earlier this month Imelda Munster TD, David Cullinane TD and I introduced the weather warning Bill in the Dáil.
“Its purpose is to provide guidelines for public sector employers and self-employed persons in the event of an extreme weather warning being enacted.
“The legislation would also impose penalties on those engaged in reckless behaviour in the midst of a severe weather warning.
“This week the island of Ireland is facing a severe weather situation. If weather reports are true it may be among the most dangerous in recent decades.
“During Storm Ophelia last October claimed three lives, including Fintan Goss from Ravensdale. As a result of those tragedies and a campaign for stronger legislation by the family, Sinn Féin TDs introduced our Bill.
“I am very disappointed that when my colleague Imelda Munster raised this issue in the Dáil the Taoiseach refused to prioritise the draft legislation.”Tags: