Fianna Fáil MEP Candidate for Midlands-North-West Brendan Smith TD says a co-ordinated gorse fire response plan is needed in the event of further outbreaks this week.

Deputy Smith made the comments after a high risk fire warning was issued this week as warm weather is forecast in the North West this week.

“Only last month we saw devastating scenes as members of the public and community groups tackled the fires, which broke out in the Rosses over the Easter bank holiday weekend. There was no co-ordination at government level and it took seven hours for an Aer Corps helicopter to be mobilised to the area”, said Deputy Smith.

“The lack of co-ordinated intervention at government level has raised serious concerns about resources at local and national level, and given the warning this week, the situation is particularly worrying.

“Fine Gael are attempting to pass the buck on this issue. When asked about the delay in mobilising the Aer Corps, Minister Paul Kehoe first claimed that responsibility for fire emergencies lies with the local authority. Because of the extensive nature of these fires, additional supports were necessary and unfortunately it took seven hours for them to arrive.

“Let me be clear, the Air Corps support, when it did arrive, brought the situation under control and their presence limited the amount of damage done. However, I believe better protocols need to be put in place to ensure a faster response and more co-ordinated approach. Coming into the summer months, and with a warning already issued, a new plan must be devised”, concluded Deputy Smith.