UK Transport Minister Robert Goodwill was in Northern Ireland today (25 February 2016) to meet search and rescue crews and hear how funding awarded over the last couple of years, most recently last week, is protecting people from drowning.
He met volunteers from Lough Neagh Rescue in Antrim and Lagan Search and Rescue in Belfast. Lough Neagh Rescue has received more than £70,000 since the UK government’s rescue boat fund was launched in 2014 to 2015. Lagan Search and Rescue has received more than £85,000. The money has purchased rescue vessels, personal protection equipment and training.
The minister was then joined by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, as they visited the Belfast Coastguard Operations Centre and the Marine Office in Bangor. They received a briefing on the work the coastguards, volunteers and other marine staff do and were given a tour of the operations centre.
Robert Goodwill said:
It was a pleasure to meet search and rescue crews, coastguards and other marine staff in Northern Ireland. I can’t thank them enough for the professionalism and commitment they show every day, year after year, often risking their own lives, to keep people safe. I was very pleased to hear that a rescue boat funded through last year’s UK government grant to Lough Neagh Rescue was used to save a canoeist’s life while out on the very first training exercise. Thanks to the bravery of staff and volunteers, the equipment we have funded this year will help keep people safe for many years to come.
Details of the charities who have shared the £1.7 million UK government rescue boat funding over the last 2 years can be found on GOV.UK.