Varadkar aiming to establish COBRA style committee in Ireland

The new Fine Gael leader hopes to establish a Cabinet-level committee on national security in the coming months

Varadkar aiming to establish COBRA style committee in Ireland

Leo Varadkar TD at the Mansion House in Dublin, 02-06-2017. Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

The new Fine Gael leader has indicated his intention to establish a COBRA style committee in Ireland in the coming months.

The special meetings are used in the UK to respond to national emergencies – and have been to forefront over recent weeks as authorities respond to the terror attacks in London and Manchester.

In the UK, the meetings involve a cross-departmental committee and are aimed at coordinating the central government’s response to crisis situations.

Depending on the nature of the emergency, senior government ministers and civil servants can be joined by military personnel, security and intelligence officials and representatives from the emergency services.

The name COBRA comes from the location of the meetings in Whitehall just behind 10 Downing Street.

The meetings are held in the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms – and most commonly in Briefing Room A – hence the acronym COBRA (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A).

Committee on national security

In a statement this evening, a spokesperson for Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar said he intends to establish a similar Cabinet-level committee on national security within the first 50 days of government.

“Although Ireland is not at high risk of a terrorist attack, it is important to be prepared for every eventuality,” said the statement.

“The new Committee will allow greater ministerial involvement in preparing for and managing major security threats, and more extensive cross-Departmental cooperation on these issues.”

Condolences

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny was among the world leaders to offer his condolences to the people of Britain following last night’s terror attack that claimed the lives of at least seven people and injured 48 others.

In a statement this evening Britain's NHS (National Health Service) warned that 21 of those injured are currently in a "critical condition."

The President Michael D Higgins also offered the sympathy and support of the Irish people:

Minister Varadkar was confirmed as the new leader of Fine Gael on Friday following a two week election process.

He condemned the attack “in the strongest terms” adding that the "fact that this comes so soon after the Manchester attack only adds to the horror."

While Enda Kenny remains in place as Taoiseach for the time being, Minister Varadkar is currently holding talks with his party members and the Independent ministers that are supporting the government.

He will also need to confirm the continuing commitment of Fianna Fáil to the confidence and supply arrangement that is propping up the minority government.

Should the talks prove successful, he will be confirmed as Ireland’s next Taoiseach through a vote in the Dáil.