Island air rescue service decision criticised

Island communities on the Western and North Western coasts are being left in limbo by the withdrawal of search and rescue facilities from the Air Corps, Fine Gael's Defence Spokesman Dinny McGinley TD said today.

Island communities on the Western and North Western coasts are being left in limbo by the withdrawal of search and rescue facilities from the Air Corps, Fine Gael's Defence Spokesman Dinny McGinley TD said today.

"Defence Minister Michael Smith's decision to remove search and rescue services from the Air Corps has very serious implications for remote and exposed island communities along the West and North West coasts," he said.

"The Air Corps has operated mercy flights to island and coastal communities for the last 40 years at absolutely no cost.

"The Air Corps has provided an excellent search & rescue service as well as an emergency service, yet Minister Smith decided, for no logical reason, to withdraw the responsibility.

"This has serious implications for the search and rescue service itself as well as Air Corps personnel.

"In a crazy sort of way, it's decentralisation in reverse. Rarely, if ever, have such brave and loyal servants been so brutally betrayed."

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