BALLYCASTLE SDLP councillor Dónal Cunningham has raised concerns about search and rescue provision and is calling for a search and rescue helicopter to be based permanently in the North.
“On two occasions recently, rescues in the Moyle area have had to rely on the assistance of an Irish Coastguard Helicopter Rescue 118 from Sligo. I am full of praise for this cross border co-operation, but I have serious concerns on the level of search and rescue provision available which it exposes.”
“The North currently relies on a system which transfers the emergency calls from Belfast MRC to the HMS Gannet SAR Flight Unit in Prestwick, Scotland, (the busiest search and rescue unit in the UK), if a helicopter is not available there, the Irish Coastguard Helicopter Rescue teams are then engaged, normally this is Sligo but there have been occasions when the only units available have been Dublin or Limerick. The travel times from Prestwick are already a concern, never mind travel times from Sligo or Dublin.
“I will be pressing Moyle District Council to lead on this issue and to fight for a search and rescue helicopter to be permanently located in the North. In Moyle we have the most beautiful yet dangerous coastline, a permanently based search and rescue helicopter in the North could also provide support to the entire north of Ireland and to Scotland and the Western Isles.”