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Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 19 February, 2020

If a humanitarian disaster happened in Ireland tomorrow, how ready would we be?

Not very.

Bosnian people being rescued during the worst flooding the country had seen in a century (May 2014).
Bosnian people being rescued during the worst flooding the country had seen in a century (May 2014).
Image: AP/Press Association Images

IRELAND WOULD HAVE to make a number of legislative changes if it were to be ready to deal with a humanitarian disaster.

A report launched today by the Irish Red Cross has identified ten areas in which Ireland’s laws and regulations could hinder international emergency aid entering the country during a crisis.

It makes a number of recommendations that would help the country prepare for, and reduce the impact of, disasters.

These include preventing delays in processing visas for relief workers; customs delays and tax requirements for medications, relief goods and equipment; and difficulties in recognising foreign professional qualifications.


Speaking at the launch of the report in Dublin, John Roche of the Irish Red Cross noted that during the recent Balkans flooding disaster the international response was “delayed due to local regulations around the importation of and the proper generic labelling of medicines”.

He noted how disasters can be unpredictable, such as the missing Malaysia Airlines plane MH370, South Korean ferry disaster and 2010 ash cloud.

While it may always be hoped that international disaster relief will never be required in Ireland or in any other country for that matter, it is essential to be prepared.

For the purposes of the study a disaster was defined as “a serious disruption of the
functioning of a community or a society causing widespread human, material, economic
or environmental losses”.

So what could happen?

The report outlines the following “plausible scenarios” that could happen in Ireland and require international assistance:

  • Major flooding 
  • Major cyber-incident
  • Major terrorist incident
  • Disruption of energy supply
  • Pandemic disease 
  • Major structural collapse
  • Nuclear or radiological emergency 
  • Tsunami (to be fair, the chances of one of these happening were deemed “very low”)

In case you were feeling too safe today, here’s a chart showing how likely certain disasters are to happen in Ireland.

national risk matrix Source: Irish Red Cross

Read: Ireland provides €50k to Balkans after worst flooding in living memory

Read: Murder trial opens for South Korea ferry captain and crew

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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