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Ireland’s emergency management chief has said he is not in favour of changing the law to force businesses to close in severe weather citing the need to keep “essential services” like bakeries open.

Shops ran out of bread during the Storm Emma blizzard last year as people stocked up amid grave weather warnings and advice to stay at home.

Seán Hogan, the national director for Fire and Emergency Management, said one lesson from red level weather alerts like the freak snowstorm was the need for some private sector services that keep the country working.

It came after Solidarity TD Mick Barry said at an Oireachtas committee that he believes there should be a law to close private sector workplaces in extreme weather.

Mr Hogan said the priority is “the protection of life and limb”. He said a system has been developed where people can react to information from Met Éireann in “an appropriate way that’s sensible”.

He said he isn’t in favour of laws which would enable someone like him to make a judgment and order businesses to close.

Mr Hogan added that reviews of recent severe weather events shows there are “essential services” that need to be kept going.

Bakeries and the logistics sector were two examples Mr Hogan gave.

He added: “These are not the high-profile jobs but they are the essential jobs to keep the country working.”

He said the Department of Business has guidance for companies on what they should do in severe weather.

Irish Independent

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