Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, has welcomed the publication of the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU’s) interim statement on Rescue 116.
Oldtown man Ciaran Smith was one of four helicopter crew tragically lost at sea, a year ago, when Rescue 116 crashed into the sea off Blacksod Bay in Co. Mayo.
In advance of the final report, this interim statement provides important updates on the recommendations in the preliminary report and makes some further recommendations, one of which is addressed to the Minister Ross.
He said: “From the very beginning, my number one concern as Minister with responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard, has been to ensure the completion of a thorough investigation of everything surrounding the tragic loss of life of the Rescue 116 crew and also to make sure that all recommendations arising from that investigation are responded to without delay.
“The recommendation addressed to me in the AAIU’s interim statement calls for a thorough review of the current arrangements in place to oversee SAR aviation operations.
“I have asked my officials to make arrangements to ensure that this review is instigated without delay. This review will be carried out by an external party and it will take account of the previous and on-going work cited in the AAIU report in relation to the SAR aviation oversight.
“The aim of this review will be to ensure that our arrangements in this regard are sufficiently robust and measure up to international best practice models.
Finally, I feel it important to emphasise that the AAIU’s investigation continues. Whilst I understand the on-going public interest in this matter, it is vital that the AAIU is given the time and space to complete its work and report on its findings.
“As such, I am not in position to comment further on the issues surrounding it. I will of course provide the AAIU with updates on progress in this specific recommendation as required and these will be published on the AAIU’s website.”