The volunteer air raid protection organisation had been in operation during the Second World War but was disbanded once hostilities ceased. However, during the Cold War, the government determined that the civil defence organisation was necessary to cope with a nuclear attack or like situation that may arise. The local authorities were first required to make schemes for civil divisions under the Air-Raid Precautions Act 1939.
The Civil Defence was set up in 1950 to be a national defence structure by way of civil response to hazards which might arise in a war situation. The organisation was designed to undertake non-combatant activities and to afford defence against and mitigate the effects on persons and properties of an attack on the State or of hazards arising during times of war or emergency such as radioactive, biological or chemical warfare.
Civil Defence is a volunteer-based organization that supports the front-line emergency services. It assists our local communities. Civil Defence has 3,500 volunteer members throughout Ireland. It has volunteers trained in each of the following services:
- Search and Rescue
- Auxiliary Fire Service
- Radiation Monitoring
Civil Defence supports the frontline emergency services in dealing with severe weather, flooding, major accidents, firefighting and searching for missing people. It supports hundreds of community events throughout the year. These include large events such as air shows, tall ships, concerts and festivals, sports events. We also support smaller local events such as parades.
The Civil defence is split into 32 administrative areas on the basis of local authority administrative areas. The home of the Civil Defence is in Roscrea, County Tipperary. Civil defence is funded 70/30 by the Department of Finance and the local authority.
Civil Defence operates under legislation that includes the Air Raid Precautions Act 1939/1946, Local Government Acts of 1941 to 2001, various Statutory Instruments and the Civil Defence Act 2002/2012. Under the Civil Defence Act 2002 the Civil Defence Board was established to manage and develop Civil Defence at national level.
On 1st January 2013, the Civil Defence Board was dissolved in accordance with the Civil Defence Act 2012. The functions rested in the Civil Defence Board have been transferred back to the Minister for Defence.
The Civil Defence Act 2002 updated Civil Defence legislation. It had formerly operated under the Air-Raid Precautions Acts 1939 and 1946, which dated back to the emergency in Ireland during World War II.
The Act established the Civil Defence Board and provided for its functions and memberships and for the appointment of a Director General. The functions in relation to civil defence under the Air-Raid Precautions Act 1939 in relation to training of persons and supplying of equipment were transferred to the Board. The funding of the Board was by way of grant in aid from the defence vote and was to be expended solely for civil defence purposes. The Board may carry on its work through committees.
Each local authority was to provide the Board with a three year development plan and include information relating to civil defence in its annual report. General criteria for the provision of grants by the Board to the local authorities for civil defence activities was provided for. There was provision for establishing procedures for recruitment and registration of civil defence members.
A register of civil defence members is to be established. Information to be entered includes name and address and telephone number of members, date of birth, qualifications and experience relevant to civil defence, date of registration, registration number and other information.
Pre-existing members were to be entered. The register was to be kept at the offices of the local authority and made available for inspection by the City and County Manager, the Board and civil defence members in relation to information concerning them personally. There is provision for rectification of errors in the register.
The Board may subject to the consent of the Minister, make regulations establishing procedures for recruitment of persons as civil defence members. The regulations may include eligibility criteria, the form and manner in which application for registration is made and the conditions for retaining memberships.
Local authorities are obliged to prepare civil defence plans. The Civil defence plan is to specify the key objectives and strategies, including the local use of resources with regard to local authority’s functions in relation to civil defence, recruitment of persons for the performance of civil defence tasks, education and training of civil defence members.
The plan is to be prepared in the form and manner that the Board may determine having regard to the need to ensure the most beneficial, effective and efficient use of resources. The plan was to be renewed every three year.
The Board was to prepare and submit a strategic plan to the Minister for approval. This was to be revised every three year. It was to specify the key objectives and strategies of the Board relating to the future development of civil defence; be prepared in the form and manner directed by the Minister, have regard to the need to effect beneficial and efficient use of resources.
It was contemplated that the Board would establish the following committees: planning and development, education and training, recruitment, health, safety and procurement.
The Board was to be financed from grants from the Minister. It was empowered to provide charges for the provision of its services.
In 2013, the Civil Defence Board was dissolved, and its functions were transferred back to the Minister for Defence.