Sunday, 5 July 2009


Much as we appreciate the help offered by the Republic of Ireland's maritime helicopter rescue service - many lives have been saved by them in Northern Ireland - it is frustrating that the Royal Air Force's Search and Rescue Force (SARF) does not have a presence in the Province; and that, as a consequence of this, HM Coastguard feels the need to liaise with the Irish Republic's maritime service instead.

I believe there used to be a search and rescue squadron based in Northern Ireland; and, when it left the Province, there was active opposition from some politicians including Jeffrey Donaldson.

I feel that we, as taxpayers and British Citizens, have been badly let down by the authorities in this regard; viz. HM Government, including the Ministry of Defence, the Northern Ireland Office and, to a lesser extent, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. I am well aware that HM Coastguard utilizes the Irish rescue service because, they maintain, Irish helicopters can get to the Province more quickly than RAF SARF helicopters based in Scotland.

It is an abrogation of the RAF's responsibilities not to have at least one SARF helicopter based in Northern Ireland. Some might think that they are more concerned about saving money than the citizens of Northern Ireland. Presumably that is the reason why we have no SARF base in the Province, is it not?

Incidentally, do we pay the Irish coastguard for this service? As taxpayers, surely we, in Northern Ireland, are entitled to the services of the RAF Search and Rescue Force?


Grannymar said...

Tim if you were stuck at the bottom of a cliff would you refuse help because of the colour of the chopper twirling overhead? I bet your would be more worried about being lifted from danger.

The rescue services from both sides of the Irish sea work together in times of need, it is a case of saving life before the cost of the flight.

Timothy Belmont said...

That's a fair point, Grannymar, and one that HM Coastguard would argue too.
My complaint isn't with the RoI maritime service.

If it isn't a matter of cost, why doesn't SARF have a helicopter based in NI?