Fine Gael TD for Galway West & Mayo South

New Capital Grant Scheme to enable Mountain Rescue Teams re-new and upgrade equipment – Kyne

A new €200,000 Capital Grant Scheme to provide a once-off grant to Mountain Rescue Teams has been launched today, Thursday. The idea for the scheme was initially raised by Fine Gael TD for Galway West and Mayo South Seán Kyne last December in a Dáil question to Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar TD.

In the Dáil chamber Minister Varadkar committed to examining his department’s budget with a view to introducing a once-off grant scheme to assist mountain rescue teams in upgrading and renewing equipment including multi-terrain vehicles which are essential to the work the teams.

There are 12 mountain rescue teams in Ireland who voluntarily carry out essential work in rescuing local people and visitors in difficulty while hill-walking or mountaineering. The teams are funded under a scheme operated on behalf of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport by the Irish Coast Guard which acts as Chair of the National Co-ordinating Committee for Mountain and Cave Rescue.

Commented Fine Gael Galway West and Mayo South TD, Seán Kyne: “This capital grant scheme is hugely welcome for our voluntary mountain rescue teams such as Galway Mountain Rescue and Mayo Mountain Rescue who carry out often life-saving work in assisting people who encounter difficulties while participating in activities on the hills and mountains in Connemara and the West.

“I’ve met with Galway Mountain Rescue representatives on several occasions regarding funding and I’ve relayed the needs of the teams to the Minister. I commend Minister Varadkar for his openness and flexibility on this important issue.

“The funding of €200,000 will enable our Mountain Rescue Teams to purchase new vehicles and equipment so that they can continue to provide their essential services which have grown in importance given our renewed emphasis on outdoor pursuits and adventure tourism, particularly along the Wild Atlantic Way ,” concluded Deputy Kyne.

1.      PQ No. being answered in Dáil on Thursday 26th June 2014:

To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if consideration is being given to assisting mountain rescue teams with the purchase of new vehicles which are essential in the performance of the organisations duties; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Seán Kyne.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 26th June, 2014.

Answered by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar

REPLY:

As the Deputy will be aware the current arrangements concerning mountain rescue teams (MRTs) creates some confusion. Under Ireland’s Framework for Emergency Management, MRTs fall under the remit of the Department of Justice and Equality and are coordinated and tasked by An Garda Síochána. However, my Department does administers a grant scheme to the mountain rescue teams and the Coast Guard also chair the National Coordinating Committee for Mountain and Cave Rescue (NCCMCR).

This creates a level of confusion as to which Department is responsible for funding and supporting MRTs. I have discussed this with my colleague Minister Fitzgerald and we are keen to examine this issue and end the perception of MRTs falling between two stools, so to speak.

Separate to this, on foot of Deputy Kyne’s suggestion late last year, I undertook to consider the possibility of providing a capital grant to assist mountain rescue services. I asked my officials to examine this. Given the role of MRTs in supporting participation in mountaineering and hill walking, I am now in a position to announce a special once-off sports capital allocation of €200,000 to mountain rescue services. These funds are to be used for the purchase of vehicles and equipment, with the precise details to be arranged between my Department and Mountain Rescue Ireland.

 

 2.      Dáil Question No: 7 for Oral Answer on Thursday 19th December 2013:

To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consider providing a capital grant scheme for mountain rescue organisations to enable the organisations, most of which are staffed by volunteers, to update or modernise equipment in view of the very welcome growth in adventure and activity related tourism which unfortunately at times requires the services of such mountain rescue organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Seán Kyne.

Answered by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar

REPLY:

In total there are 12 mountain rescue teams in Ireland. These teams, staffed by volunteers, are called upon to operate on all weather conditions and provide a hugely important service. As we approach the end of 2013, I thank them and all our volunteer rescue teams for the amazing work they do.

My Department, through the Irish Coast Guard, administers an annual grant scheme to Mountain Rescue Ireland, the umbrella organisation for Mountain Rescue Teams on the island of Ireland. However, it is important to recognise that the Garda Siochána have responsibility for the coordination of mountain rescue teams under the Framework for Major Emergency Management.

The Gardaí fall under the remit of the Department for Justice and Equality.

In administering this grant, my Department meets Mountain Rescue Ireland and relevant statutory bodies each year to review grant requests in accordance with a framework agreed some years ago. The grants paid to the individual teams reflect the level of operations and expenditures of the teams and it is a matter for the individual teams as to decide how it is spent, as each team at the local level develops its own administrative and operational practices. In the year to date, some €186,000 has been paid in grant assistance to Mountain Rescue Ireland and its constituent teams. I am pleased to say that it has been possible to retain the grant at this level over the past few years. I will do so again in 2014. Mountain Rescue Ireland, as an all island organisation, also avails of additional supports in Northern Ireland.

I am open to considering the introduction of a modest capital grant scheme as proposed by the Deputy and will ask my officials to engage with Mountain Rescue Ireland around the issues involved.

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