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Ó Snodaigh expresses alarm at gaps in air cover during emergencies

16 March, 2017 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin Defence Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has expressed alarm that cuts to the Defence Forces prevented the Irish Air Corps from providing top cover off the Mayo coast instead of Coast Guard helicopter 116.

The Dublin South-Central TD said:

“Reports today suggest that the Air Corps is not providing fixed wing aircraft for routine operations outside of normal hours because of a loss of experienced Air Crew and Air Traffic Control personnel. I understand that the Casa CN235 aircraft used by the Air Corps would have been better equipped to provide the air cover required for Monday’s recovery mission of the Mayo coast that ended in tragedy with the loss of four Coast Guard personnel.

“The loss of experienced personnel across the Defence Forces and a lack of investment in equipment has resulted in alarming gaps in the capacity of the Air Corps to respond to emergencies, such as medical transfers, air support in rescue missions and of children being transported to England for organ transplant operations. I along with others have previously raised this lack of Air Corps capacity with the Taoiseach and junior Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe to ensure that the Air Corps is fit to carry out its responsibilities fully.

“One of those Coast Guard personnel in the helicopter was Paul Ormsby, who from Ballyfermot in my constituency, and I take the opportunity to express my condolences to all of the families on the loss of their brave loved ones.” 

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