Update from the Head of the Civil Service – Storm Ophelia

Date published: 17 October 2017

The Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, David Sterling today thanked all the front line responders for their professionalism and perseverance in dealing with Storm Ophelia.

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This morning at 08:00 he chaired the Civil Contingencies Group for Northern Ireland and was updated on all activities overnight from the key organisations.

David Sterling said: “Today is about recovery and getting on with the work of clearing up and getting people ‎back to their daily routines as safely and quickly as possible. As people return to work there is a need for care particularly in relation to large trees and electric lines. Contractors should also check all scaffolding to ensure it hasn’t moved during the storm. 

“I put on record my gratitude to all the organisations and front line responders who worked tirelessly in the most challenging conditions. The people of Northern Ireland are indebted to them individually and collectively for their professionalism and perseverance.”

The Met Office first alerted responders to Ophelia on Friday 13th October with a Yellow warning. The upgrading of the Met Office warning to an Amber alert on Sunday 15th October resulted in the convening of a multi-agency teleconference meeting later that day to assess the situation, collectively discuss potential impacts and identify how best to mitigate their effects and to co-ordinate the response. The PSNI opened their Strategic Co-ordination Centre on the morning of Monday 16th October where all key responders continued to work together to coordinate the collective response to and recovery from the storm.

David Sterling also held an emergency meeting with the Permanent Secretaries from all Government Departments on Monday morning.

Established command and co-ordination structures were in place throughout, yesterday CCG provided an additional oversight and review function as Ophelia approached, providing reassurance that all necessary preparations were in place.

The Civil Contingencies Group was convened at the request of the Head of the Civil Service to give maximum possible support to the multi-agency responders and support public safety. It was agreed this Group could be stood down this morning on the basis of updates provided by all organisations on activities overnight.

In addition to the Civil Contingencies Group meetings there were meetings of the Strategic Co-ordination Group at 11am, 3pm, 7pm and 11pm on Monday 16th October.

A further meeting will be held today at 9.30am as part of the clean-up operation. The Executive Office and the Head of the Civil Service were fully engaged and kept updated at all times.

In closing David Sterling, said: “I extend my sympathies to the families and friends of those who lost loved ones in the Republic of Ireland as a result of the adverse weather.”

For information and useful contact numbers visit nidirect.

Notes to editors: 

1. Organisations represented on the Civil Contingencies Group (Northern Ireland) include:

  • The Executive Office 
  • Executive Information Service
  • Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs
  •  Northern Ireland Environment Agency
  • Department of Health
  • Department for Infrastructure
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Finance
  • Department for Communities (to include DfC Local Government Policy Division, NI Housing Executive and social security)
  • Department of Justice
  • Department for the Economy
  • Northern Ireland Water
  • Northern Ireland Office
  • Local Government
  • Police Service of Northern Ireland  
  • Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service
  • Northern Ireland Ambulance Service
  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency
  • Met Office
  • Food Standards Agency

2. Media enquiries to TEO Press Office on 028 9037 8256. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Office via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

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