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Sinn Féin seeks support for Mourne Underwater Search Team

4 February, 2008

South Down Sinn Féin Assembly Member Cllr Willie Clarke has written to the Minister for Health and Safety Michael McGimpsey MLA requesting funding for the Mourne Underwater Search Team (MUST).

Mr Clarke explained:

"Since it was established in 1999, the Mourne Underwater Search Team (MUST) has provided a voluntary search and recovery service that has helped families in the most tragic of circumstances.

"From the outset their key objective has been to provide a service to the community by answering the call of families who are anxiously awaiting the recovery of a missing loved one. Over the years, MUST has assisted in the rescue efforts of the Emergency Services where tragedies have occurred on lakes, canals and on the coast across the six counties and in border areas.

"It is now time that the key role they play, especially in light of the withdrawal of the PSNI dive team, is recognised by the Executive.

"It is clearly evident that there is a pressing need for the Six Counties to have in place its own dedicated dive team which can be called upon to respond swiftly in the inevitable event of another tragedy occurring.

"More people than ever are using our rivers, lakes, and waterways for both recreational purposes and through employment in the local fishing industry and the MUST diving team are very grateful to the assistance of the local community including the fishing fraternity and especially the support of families who have lost loved ones in drowning accidents.

"It is now vitally important that the MUST divers, who risk their lives on a voluntary basis in search and recovery operations, are provided with the necessary finance to ensure their training is ongoing and they have equipment that is of the highest standard.

"I have raised this matter with Mr McGimpsey and reminded him that this is an issue which has cross-party support. There must now be in place government funding and support for the MUST dive team whose admirable efforts in search and recovery operations has been a source of comfort for families who have lost loved ones in terrible tragedies." ENDS

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