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NI minister announces £100,000 of funding for search and rescue groups

Justice Minister Naomi Long has allocated the funding to nine voluntary search and rescue groups which support the region's emergency services, including the PSNI.

The Northern Ireland Justice Minister has announced a £100,000 funding package for nine voluntary search and rescue groups which support the region's emergency services.

Northern Ireland Search and Rescue (NISAR) groups, which provide assistance on inland waterways, coastal areas, mountains and caves, are often an invaluable resource for the PSNI - particularly in missing person cases.

To reflect the importance of that work, the latest allocation made by Naomi Long means a total of more than £1.2million has been awarded in the past seven years.

The Justice Minister paid tribute to those who volunteer during a recent visit to Foyle Search and Rescue (FSAR), one of the region's NISAR groups.

“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," she said.

This latest funding is to assist with day-to-day running costs, to pay for new clothing and equipment, and to support ongoing training. 

Ms Long highlighted "a reported increase in emergency call-outs post Covid, and the current pressure on the cost of living" as factors which make these groups more crucial than ever.

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

Its Chair, Stephen Twells, said the group would "struggle to maintain the level of service" it currently provides without the support of Ms Long's department and other public organisations.

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