A special one-off grant of €200,000 for Mountain Rescue Ireland to purchase new vehicles and equipment was announced today by Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar & Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring.
The Ministers made the announcement in Dáil Éireann and went on to meet with officials from Mountain Rescue Ireland in Government Buildings.
“Mountain rescue teams play a hugely important role in supporting trekkers and mountaineers. Hill walking and adventure sports are getting more popular by the year, and play an increasingly important role in tourism.
“The various mountain rescue teams work closely with the Irish Coast Guard and the Gardaí on rescue operations. My Department has stabilised current funding for mountain rescue since the general election, providing €363,000 for day to day operations since then. But having met Mountain Rescue Ireland earlier this year, and discussed ongoing issues with equipment and vehicles, we also decided to provide a special once-off sports capital allocation of €200,000. This grant will be used for new vehicles and equipment with the precise details to be arranged between my officials and Mountain Rescue Ireland.”
Minister Ring added: “As a West of Ireland Minister I am very familiar with the excellent work done by mountain rescue teams. I want to pay tribute to the heroism of these brave men who go out in all conditions, throughout the year. We have some of the harshest weather in the West of Ireland, and we feel the full force of the Atlantic storms. I’m delighted that we could make this special allocation and I look forward to building on this close relationship with Mountain Rescue Ireland.”
Separately, Minister Varadkar said he plans to hold discussions with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald about improving current oversight arrangements. Under Ireland’s Framework for Emergency Management, mountain rescue teams fall under the remit of the Department of Justice & Equality and are coordinated and tasked by the Gardaí. However, the Department of Transport administers the grant scheme, while the Coast Guard chairs the National Coordinating Committee for Mountain & Cave Rescue.
Minister Varadkar said: “We need greater clarity concerning which Department is responsible for funding and supporting mountain rescue teams. I intend to discuss this matter with my colleague Minister Fitzgerald and provide a better arrangement for mountain rescue.”