The Civil Defence Branch of the Department of Defence, based in Benamore, Roscrea, Co Tipperary is charged with the management and development of Civil Defence at national level. The Civil Defence Branch provides policy direction, centralised training through the Civil Defence College, administrative support and guidance and centralised procurement of major items of uniform and equipment in support of local authority Civil Defence efforts.
Civil Defence is funded by way of a grant from the Defence Vote. Funding for Civil Defence operations at local level is shared on a 70/30 basis between the Department of Defence and local authorities by way of an annual grant to each authority.
Civil Defence services are delivered through the Civil Defence Officer (CDO) of the relevant Local Authority for that area. The CDO is a full time employee of the local authority and is responsible for the day-to-day management of Civil Defence matters under the overall direction of the relevant Chief Executive. Volunteers join Civil Defence through the local authority for their area and, in time, having undergone training and gained experience at local level may progress and qualify as Instructors.
Civil Defence Volunteer Instructors from all over the country come to Civil Defence Headquarters in Roscrea to be trained in a wide variety of programmes. When trained, Instructors return to their respective local authority areas and pass on the benefit of their knowledge and experience to the Volunteers based there. The Civil Defence College, which is part of the Civil Defence Branch, is recognised as a training institution by regulatory bodies such as the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) and by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). The Civil Defence Branch Headquarters, with a staff complement of 26, serves as a National Control Centre for the organisation and forms a crucial hub for the Civil Defence national communications network.
In the day to day management of Civil Defence training and operations at local authority level the CDO is assisted by a key team of Instructors, qualified in a range of disciplines, and who do so on a voluntary basis. Apart from the payment of expenses for travel and subsistence, in certain circumstances, Civil Defence members make themselves available for training, exercises or operations on a voluntary basis.
Time and again Civil Defence Volunteer members have displayed their dedication and response capability in support of the primary emergency services and their local communities. High profile activities such as the severe weather response efforts to Storm Ophelia in 2017 and Storm Emma in 2018. Our volunteers spent weeks assisting the search for the crew of the Coast Guard helicopter 116, lost off Mayo in 2017. Our volunteers regularly assist the Gardaí in missing person searches. These are a testament to the professionalism and dedication of the Volunteer membership.
The International symbol for Civil Defence is worn by all members, to show they are part of a worldwide network of committed people, prepared to serve in their own country or overseas as part of practical disaster relief assistance. The international sign of Civil Defence is defined under Article 66, paragraph 4 of Schedule V to the Geneva Conventions Act.