Concerns have been raised over delays to an air ambulance service in Cork which has been described as “life-saving”.
The Irish Community Rapid Response Air Ambulance service was expected to be operational at the end of last year.
However, it has been revealed that the team involved and the expensive equipment needed has been left grounded as it awaits the sign off from Health Minister Simon Harris.
Cork County councillor Paul Hayes (SF) said he is disappointed at the delays.
“We thought this would be up and running months ago and the boxes seem to be ticked at this stage but it’s just sitting on the desk up in Minister Harris’s office in Dublin.
“It’s been really well received across the region, hundreds of people have turned out at community events to see the project.
“We need to know why Minister Harris is yet to sign off on the project which will offer a huge service to areas like West Cork,” added Cllr Hayes.
“It’s a life-saving service.
“We see how fantastic the rapid response vehicles have been; there are people literally walking around that wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for that service.
“The air ambulance would provide a similarly vital service.
“It can be in the air within minutes and get to areas that would only be accessible by ambulance in two hours or more, within minutes.
It can be within the sky in minutes and in the likes of Bantry and Castletownbere in minutes.”
Cllr Hayes said that similar initiatives have been taken up in the likes of Wales and other countries.
“We’re not reinventing the wheel by any means.
“€50,000 has been spent to train paramedics to work with it so it’s not a half-hearted effort.
“We need to know why there are delays in getting this airborne because everything seems to be in place and ready to go,” he added.
“It needs to be a priority.”
Cork County Hall will now write to the Minister to ask why the project is yet to be signed off on.