Emergency management on the island of Ireland – Recent cross-border developments

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Emergency management has developed separately in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland as a result of the differences in the political, legal, organisational and cultural backgrounds that exist in the two jurisdictions. Good cross-border cooperation has existed at individual organisational level between the principal emergency response agencies for many years. Now that regions in Europe are becoming more connected it is becoming increasingly obvious to agencies with responsibility for emergency management on both sides of the border that we need to be better prepared and ready to work effectively together to deal with any major emergency that may arise along the border. Emergencies and natural or manmade disasters do not respect geographical borders, particularly on a landmass as small as the island of Ireland. It is recognised that there is a need for more formalised joint planning and greater collaboration by the statutory agencies, which will result in a more coordinated and effective response to any possible major emergencies or disasters that may occur along the border areas. This paper reviews the current emergency management arrangements in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, how the structures, roles and responsibilities of the various agencies involved differ, and how a move to greater collaboration has occurred, as well as examining the drivers for this collaboration, how this has manifested itself so far, and how the potential for pragmatic, flexible and creative solutions will achieve further progress in the coming years.

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