Friday 24 May 2019

Irish Air Corps sent across the border to assist with major gorse fire

Image: Irish Air Corps
Image: Irish Air Corps
Ryan Nugent

Ryan Nugent

Irish Air Corps choppers have been requested to cross the border to assist the Northern Ireland fire service less than a day after the Brexit border issue was thrown into question following UK cabinet resignations.

The wheels have gone up on two Defence Force choppers to assist in putting out a large gorse fire in Armagh, two miles north of the border.

The AW139 helicopter and EC135 aircraft left Baldonnel in the last hour.

The fire, on Ballintemple Road, has been raging for around four days now.

The request by the Northern Irish fire service was made this morning.

It’s understood approval for the operation was granted following contact between the Defence Forces, the DFA, and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

The DFA liaised with British authorities to ensure all necessary permissions were in place for the Air Corps to cross the border, in what has been described as a “very rare” request.

Defence Minister, Paul Kehoe has confirmed that approval was granted for the operation.

He said the Air Corps remains on standby to respond to request for assistance with fires caused by the hot weather.

"This deployment is the latest example of how our Defence Forces and Air Corps are assisting other agencies to ensure communities are safe," he said.

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