I would accept Covid-19 help from British or Irish armies, says UUP member

I would accept Covid-19 help from British or Irish armies, says UUP member

Stormont’s health minister has said he would accept help from the British or Irish armies if it proved necessary during the coronavirus pandemic.

Robin Swann said he would use any tools at his disposal to help tackle the emergency.

While Mr Swann, a member of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), did not rule out the need for military intervention, even raising the prospect of Ireland's Defence Forces being deployed north of the border, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill insisted soldiers were not required.

The health minister was asked about soldiers potentially having to return to the streets of Northern Ireland, during an Assembly debate on new state powers to deal with the emergency.

If we get to a stage where they can provide a service that we can't, folks, I'll use whoever's at my disposal

“Folks, will I use the Army? Will I call in the Army if I have to?” he said.

“If we get to a stage where they can provide a service that we can’t, folks, I’ll use whoever’s at my disposal.

“I’ll use whatever tool I have at my disposal to tackle this virus.

“If the Irish army want to come up and help us too, when they’ve it sorted down there, I’d be more than happy to welcome them.

“So folks, let’s not let this debate or this issue be politicised.”

Michelle O’Neill (Liam McBurney/PA)
Michelle O’Neill (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sinn Féin’s Ms O’Neill was later asked about Mr Swann’s comments at the daily Covid-19 press briefing at Parliament Buildings.

“In terms of the British military personnel, we don’t need to deploy the British military personnel,” she replied.

“We have a very strong civil contingency group in place, established by the executive, and it looks at all the emergency services.

“We also have brilliant support networks out there across sporting fields and everything else right into the community level that are prepared to do their part, and I have no doubt that we can respond to this emergency in that way.”

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

More on this topic

Bindi Irwin reflects on getting married in midst of coronavirus crisisBindi Irwin reflects on getting married in midst of coronavirus crisis

Pope warns against negativity as world emerges into new normalPope warns against negativity as world emerges into new normal

Government warned against rush to ease Covid-19 travel restrictionsGovernment warned against rush to ease Covid-19 travel restrictions

Dominic Raab unaware of Dominic Cummings’s whereabouts while de facto PMDominic Raab unaware of Dominic Cummings’s whereabouts while de facto PM