Former Army official blames Taoiseach for air ambulance cutbacks

Former Army official blames Taoiseach for air ambulance cutbacks

A former top Army official claims the Taoiseach and the Defence Minister are to blame for the cutbacks in the air ambulance service.

It will not run for 16 days over the next four months because of staff shortages in the Air Corps.

It is linked to the recruitment and retention crisis in the Defence Forces.

Retired brigadier general Ger Aherne says top government officials are to blame.

"It's just the most recent indication of the failure of those responsible to have a credible retention policy for the Defence Forces," he said.

"Those responsible are the following: The Taoiseach, who is the Minister for Defence, Leo Varadkar; the Junior Minister, Paul Keogh; and the Secretary General of the Department of Defence, Maurice Quinn."

Fine Gael Senator Frank Feighan defended the Taoiseach and the Minister, saying pilot retention is an issue internationally.

"Since the introduction of the air ambulance in 2012 in Athlone, the air ambulance has saved hundreds of lives across the country and especially in the west of Ireland," said Senator Feighan.

"There are issues regarding retention of pilots all across the world. I understand the Taoiseach and the Minister have put in place incentives to ensure these pilots will stay within the Air Corps."


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