Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton TD, today announced approval for the use of Blue Lights and Audible Warnings for Mountain Rescue Ireland on their vehicles.
The use of Blue Lights and Audible Warnings on emergency vehicles is an essential part of emergency services’ response to emergency, life threatening and time critical situations.
The list of groups who will be able to use blue lights and sirens going forward includes Galway Mountain Rescue Team. 25% of the volunteer team’s calls, in both mountain and lowland areas, are in Co Clare.
Minister Naughton stated: “Mountain Rescue Ireland (MRI) are an essential emergency response service, providing support and rescue services in some of the most inaccessible places in the State. The work of MRI is invaluable, and it is essential that they are supported to continue this work. However, at present, MRI vehicles and teams are not permitted to use Blue Lights and Audible Warnings.
Following engagement between departmental officials, MRI and An Garda Síochána, I am delighted to be able to approve the inclusion of MRI vehicles within the legislation governing the use of blue lights and audible warnings.
It is right that the use of blue lights and audible warning are restricted to emergency vehicles responding to life threatening and time critical scenarios. But we should now include MRI as part of that group of essential services that can utilise them”.
Minister Naughton added: “From a road safety perspective, An Garda Síochána, MRI and the department have identified the need for advanced driver training for MRI volunteers in order to use blue lights and audible warnings responsibly and safely. However, the department also recognises that MRI is a voluntary organisation, with limited funding. In this instance, I am very pleased to announce that the department will provide the necessary funding of, and administrative support for, the required driver training on behalf of MRI. This will allow their current funding to continue to be used on life-saving equipment and suitable vehicles.
I want to thank Mountain Rescue Ireland and all of their volunteers for their hard work and dedication. These volunteers deserve our respect, support and gratitude, and I am confident that this measure will allow them to continue to provide the extremely high level of service they have delivered to date.”.
It is expected that the appropriate legislation will be in place in the first half of 2023. The Department will work with MRI, and other agencies as relevant, to finalise the details around administration, funding and the appropriate level of training. These should be confirmed early next year and further engagement with MRI will be undertaken.
The Department will also be working with the relevant state agencies to develop the technical and operational structures needed to support a safe blue light service for MRI and the public.