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Posted by nelson on August 10, 2017

With questions over her capability increasing since the shambolic combined response to fires at Pedrógão Grande - in which 64 people died and another three deaths may still be added to the tally - minister for internal administration Constança Urbano de Sousa insisted yesterday that now is not the time to discuss her resignation.

De Sousa faced journalists giving a long speech in which very little became clear.

SIRESP, the massively expensive ‘State’ communications network propped up by sundry shareholders was once again highlighted for its shortcomings, and although the government has commissioned nine studies and inquiries into the fires, de Sousa has now launched a 10th “to ascertain SIRESP’s failings” and suggest suitable penalties.

As for her ministries’ own shortcomings in response to tragedy, these have yet to be laid out for public scrutiny.

In other words, six weeks on from the worst fires in Portugal’s living memory, the various entities’ involved perceived failings are still far from being confirmed.

De Sousa’s admission that there was “a lack of coordination” at command centres which delayed the “detection of problems” has been refuted by Civil Protection which insists its response to the disaster was “adequate”.

Somehow authorities have managed to sidestep the fact that GNR agents actually ushered fleeing drivers onto the secondary road which transformed into a deadly furnace, killing at least 47.

Indeed, during her speech yesterday, de Sousa turned the issue round by saying that “most of the deaths occurred in situations where no calls for help were issued”.

It was left to opinion writer Paula Ferreira to state the obvious: “As we all suspected: everything went wrong”.

The absurdity is that we live in a country where this can occur at any time “without any kind of consequence. SIRESP has ‘worked’ (for this read ‘malfunctioned’) like this for years”.

De Sousa’s real challenge, said Ferreira, is to finally do something about it - concluding that whether she does or not should depend on whether she keeps her government post.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

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