Fianna Fáil general election candidate for Sligo-Leitrim Shane Ellis has expressed his concern that Sligo Airport may not be able to continue to provide a base to Rescue 118, the search and rescue helicopter assigned to Sligo and the wider region.

Following meetings with airport officials Shane Ellis explained, “I am in frequent dialogue with Albert Higgins, Chairperson of Sligo Airport Board, who has concerns as the airport is struggling to meet the costs required for a 24-hour tower which is critical to operations of Rescue 118.

“I understand the cost of the tower is approx. 50k per year yet since the public service obligation funding ceased for the airport there is little to no income at the airport. Compared with Waterford Airport, who are of a similar level yet receive much funding yearly, we in the west are being left behind. 

“Along the western sea board, we know all too well the dedication and commitment of our search and rescue teams. It is imperative they have a base in Sligo and that funding is guaranteed for the tower to facilitate operations out of Sligo.

“Successive Fine Gael Ministers for Transport have been lobbied on this over the years but ignored the north west. I am calling on our current Minister for Transport to ensure that full time tower operations are supported to back the lifesaving efforts of Rescue 118,” concluded Shane Ellis.