Louth TD Munster supports new Extreme Weather Bill to protect employees

Local man Fintan Goss was one of three people who lost their lives as Storm Ophelia hit Ireland

Barry Landy

Reporter:

Barry Landy

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barry.landy@dundalkdemocrat.ie

Louth TD Munster supports new Extreme Weather Bill to protect employees

Louth TD Imelda Munster is supporting Sinn Fein's Extreme Weather Warning (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2018

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath, Imelda Munster TD, has backed a new bill introduced in the Dail this week focusing on of the importance of protection for workers during extreme weather events. 

Three people lost their lives across the country last October, as Storm Ophelia battered the country. Local man Fintan Goss died when a tree fell on his car as he returned home from work. The Ravensdale native left work early that day, due to the severe weather conditions. 

Mr Goss, 33, was the sole occupant of his vehicle when it was struck by a tree on the old Dundalk to Newry Road as he made the short journey to his residence in Ballymakellet. He was well known locally for representing St Patricks GFC. 

The new Sinn Fein bill, which is co-sponsored by Louth TD Gerry Adams and Dail colleague David Cullinane TD, aims to protect workers during Status Red Weather warnings, including those who work in the emergency services. 

It wants to see designated Status Red Weather Warning days treated as public holidays, meaning both private and public sector employees can stay at home and be paid as if it were a working day.

Commenting on the Extreme Weather Warning (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2018, Deputy Munster said: "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.

"There was a significant level of confusion in the aftermath of Storm Ophelia regarding what actions businesses in the private sector and self-employed persons should take during an extreme weather warning.

"This bill will also impose penalties on those who would put lives in danger through reckless behavior when an extreme weather warning has been called," she continued.

"It seeks to give An Garda Síochána enhanced powers to pursue such behavior. Concerns were raised about the behavior of some people during the storm, and for the safety of those working in the emergency services."

Local Gardai and members of the Clogherhead RNLI were called out on the morning of October 16th - just as Storm Ophelia hit - after reports of a number of windsurfers in the water at Blackrock Bay. 

The group were able to reach the shore safely but were warned about their conduct with emergency services urging the public to heed warnings to stay out of the water and remain indoors as the storm passed. 

“This bill aims to provide a level of certainty in these scenarios. Three people tragically lost their lives as a direct result of Storm Ophelia.

“As legislators we must now take measures to guide employers, protect workers and strengthen the powers of emergency services in the case of future warnings.

“I believe that this legislation will help prevent tragedies during future extreme weather events, and so I ask that this legislation be supported.”

In November, Mr Goss' widow Pamela wrote to members of the Oireachtas seeking clarity on the rules regarding whether employees of privately owned companies are obliged to travel to work during a Status Red Weather Warning.