Justice Minister, David Ford has acknowledged the vital work of rescue dogs and voluntary search and rescue organisations.
The Minister was speaking during a visit to Search and Rescue Dogs Association – Ireland North (SARDA) at their base in Tollymore Forest Park. SARDA is one of a number of voluntary search and rescue organisations which sit on the NI Search and Rescue Practitioners Group recently established by the Department of Justice.
David Ford said: “I am very keen to see all the voluntary search and rescue teams in action. They provide a vital network of support to the emergency services, and have helped to save countless lives throughout Northern Ireland. I have particularly enjoyed meeting some of the volunteers, and the dogs, here at SARDA this evening, and learning more about the service they provide.”
The Minister also took the opportunity to highlight the importance of the search and rescue dogs being able to work in safety in the countryside and mountainous areas where they are often dispatched.
He said: “Whilst I fully understand that some landowners may have had difficulties with dogs on their land, it is essential that there is recognition of the role of search and rescue dogs, and imperative that they can operate in safety. These dogs provide a vital service in the search for, and rescue of, missing or injured persons. Often, when carrying out this work, they have to be off a lead and will wear a recogniseable coat. I would urge caution from all land owners and farmers when faced with a dog on their land, and to consider the possibility that the dog may be involved in a search.”
Further information can be found on the work of search and rescue dogs at the SARDA website
Notes to editors:
1. The Department of Justice assumed policy responsibility for land and inland water search and rescue (SAR) in Northern Ireland in 2011. A Northern Ireland Search and Rescue Policy group and Practitioners subgroup were set up.
2. One of the recommendations flowing from the subsequent review into search and rescue was that available Northern Ireland Executive funding should be accessible to all the Northern Ireland SAR voluntary organisations represented on the NISAR Practitioners Group.
3. The Department assumed responsibility for the allocation of available funding from 1 April 2015. It has sought bids from all the nine groups on the Search and Rescue Practitioners Group. Seven applied and have been allocated funding. SARDA received £10,480.
4. Under the previous arrangements, Sport NI had delegated authority from DCAL for the allocation of funding to members of the Northern Ireland Mountain Cave and Cliff Rescue Coordinating Committee.
5. All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office on 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 0769 971 5440 and your call will be returned.
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