Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo, and party Deputy Leader, Dara Calleary says the government failure to manage the Defence Forces and exodus of members of the force is putting the Air Ambulance service at risk.

Raising the matter at Leaders Questions, Deputy Calleary said, “The Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO) conference this week heard of the severe lack of staff which is putting the Air Ambulance service at risk. This stark situation has seen a Lieutenant Colonel frequently fly missions due to a shortage of pilots at the rank of Captain.

“The Air Ambulance services make a massive difference to the lives of people in rural communities in the West. The services sees to road traffic collisions, serious medical illnesses, and those in rural areas. In a year when ambulance response times are not being met, the Air Ambulance services acts as a life line for a rapid transfer to hospital.

“My party colleagues and I have repeatedly raised the plight of Defence Forces personnel. There has been an exodus of serving members buying themselves out of our Defence Forces. The government have presided over this, and despite the talk about doing something to help members, they have done nothing to stop the crisis.

“I would urge the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence to start taking this problem seriously. As well as the livelihood of the serving Defence Forces personnel, if this crisis is left to run its course, there will be collateral damage for members of the public, such as a diminished Air Ambulance service,” concluded Deputy Calleary.