Justice funding for search and rescue groups tops £1.2Million

Date published: 19 October 2022

Justice Minister Naomi Long has announced funding of £100,000 for Northern Ireland Search and Rescue (NISAR) groups, bringing the total allocated to more than £1.2million in the past seven years.

Naomi Long announced funding of £100,000 for Northern Ireland Search and Rescue

Nine voluntary search and rescue groups provide assistance to Northern Ireland emergency services on inland waterways, coastal areas, mountains and caves. A specialist search dogs unit and sky watch aviation facility are also among the services deployed in rescue operations.

Speaking after a visit to Foyle Search and Rescue centre, The Justice Minister, Naomi Long highlighted the essential work carried out by committed and selfless volunteers: “It has never been more important to support our voluntary search and rescue groups. With a reported increase in emergency call-outs post Covid, and the current pressure on the cost of living and running costs, the work of dedicated volunteers is impressive and increasingly needed. 

“I know there are more than 500 volunteers working with the various search and rescue groups - men and women of all ages who give freely of their time to learn expert life-saving skills and put themselves at risk to help search for and rescue others. The funding I have announced today will assist with day to day running costs, and help to replace protective clothing, equipment and support ongoing training”

The Minister added: “The visit today has given me an opportunity to see first-hand how our search and rescue volunteers mobilise and respond,  it has also provided me with the opportunity to thank all those involved in Foyle Search and Rescue and the wider NISAR groups, for their tireless commitment to helping others in need. ”

Since its inception back in 1993, Foyle Search and Rescue has been responsible for saving 490 people from the River Foyle and helping over 4.500 people who intended to enter the water.

During the visit the Minister met staff and volunteers who took time to explain the many pieces of equipment they use in search and rescue from the River Foyle as well as in emergencies across the province.Minister is pictured during a visit to Foyle Search and Rescue

Stephen Twells, FSAR Chair said, “The financial support we receive from the Department of Justice and other public organisations helps with our considerable running costs. Without it we would struggle to maintain the level of service which we currently provide.”

WATCH: Justice Minister Naomi Long visits Foyle Search and Rescue

Notes to editors: 


Pic 014 Justice Minister Naomi Long announced funding of £100,000 for Northern Ireland Search and Rescue (NISAR) groups during a visit to Foyle Search and Rescue (FSAR) in Londonderry. Pictured with Minister Long are Foyle Search and Rescue staff and volunteers.

Pic 017 Justice Minister Naomi Long has announced funding of £100,000 for Northern Ireland Search and Rescue (NISAR) groups. The Minister is pictured during a visit to Foyle Search and Rescue (FSAR) where she met staff and volunteers. Included also is NISAR Chair Simon Hutchinson.

2.  The Department of Justice co-ordinates the Northern Ireland Search and Rescue Practitioners’ Group which brings together the nine independent voluntary search and rescue groups, local RNLI and Coastguard teams, and members of their statutory partners.  This provides a forum for groups to come together to share experiences and best practice.  Further information can be found on the Northern Ireland Search and Rescue webpage at https://www.justice-ni.gov.uk/articles/northern-ireland-search-and-rescue

3.  The table below details the resource funding allocated to the nine voluntary search and rescue groups in 2022/23.



Community Rescue Service


Foyle Search and Rescue


Irish Cave Rescue Organisation


Lagan Search and Rescue


Lough Neagh Rescue


Mourne Mountain Rescue Team


North West Mountain Rescue Team


Search and Rescue Dog Association IN


Sky Watch NI






4.  The Department of Justice assumed responsibility for the allocation of available funding from 1 April 2015. 

5.  For media enquiries contact the Department of Justice Press Office via Email 

6.  The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours’ service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted out of hours 028 9037 8110

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