Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Search and Rescue Service.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

17 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Defence when a helicopter will be provided as part of the permanent equipment of the LE Eithne; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

It is intended that a helicopter will be assigned to the LE Eithne at the earliest possible date.

This commitment was confirmed recently when it was stated, in the context of the enhanced search and rescue service at Shannon, that the Government are committed to deploying a Dauphin helicopter to Cork, primarily for operation with LE Eithne and to be based in Cork when not embarked on that ship.

Given that this has been a longstanding objective of the service and one that has been raised constantly with his Department, can the Minister say why there has been a delay in assigning a helicopter to the LE Eithne. He referred to “the earliest date” the term used by his predecessor in office in June 1990, and I should like to ask him to give some indication of what that term now means?

In response to the first part of the question, the Report of the Review Group on the Air-Sea Rescue Services was received in August 1990. The Government decided at that time that the helicopter should be located in Cork as soon as possible, primarily for operation with the LE Eithne. It would be located in Cork when not embarked on the vessel. The necessary arrangements to implement that decision are now being put in place.