Coast Guard helicopter targeted by laser louts

Coast Guard helicopter targeted by laser louts

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The Shannon based helicopter was heading to the Aran Islands on a training mission at the time – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

Gardaí have launched an investigation into an incident where a potentially blinding laser was used to target crew of the Shannon-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter.

The crew was flying to the Aran Islands last night for a training exercise when the dangerous green laser light was aimed at their aircraft.

The incident occurred at around 10.18pm while the Sikorsky S92A helicopter was crossing the coast just north of Doolin. The crew reported being “hit by a green laser multiple times” and asked air traffic controllers to inform Gardaí of the incident.

Such lasers can cause glare and flash blindness however, in this incident, the helicopter was able to continue to the Aran Island to complete the training exercise without the crew being adversely affected.

Air traffic controllers notified Gardaí and a mobile patrol was dispatched to the area. Gardaí were only told however that the laser was pointed at the aircraft from the Lisdoonvarna area with no other specific information being available.

Gardaí have confirmed they are investigating the incident – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2019

A spokesperson for the Irish Coast Guard said: “The Coast Guard is aware of the alleged incident. CHC Ireland, the operators of the Coast Guard helicopter contract, is reviewing the incident in accordance with established company protocols and regulatory reporting requirements. Incidents of this type are of great concern and the Coast Guard very much regrets the lack of understanding and safety risk displayed by such actions”.

A Garda spokesman confirmed that officers were dispatched to the area but despite a comprehensive search, nothing was discovered. A Garda investigation into this incident is continuing.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Gardaí in Lisdoonvarna or any Garda station.

Last month, the Shannon based helicopter was targeted while the crew searched for a person reported to have entered the water in Limerick city. The crew of Rescue 115 was forced to break off from the search mission while it later transpired that the report of a missing person was a hoax.

 

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Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.

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