Minisiter Michelle O'Neill calls for Army helicopters to drop in supplies

Minister Michelle O’Neill calls for Army helicopters to drop in supplies

THE ARMY is use its helicopters to drop in emergency food parcels and feed to isolated families and farmers.

A Chinook helicopter is currently on its way from the UK to help airlift in food, emergency medical supplies and animal feed to those cut off by the snow.

The move comes after Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill called for Ministry of Defence helicopters to provide aide to those trapped in heavy snow across parts of Northern Ireland.

Heavy snowfall and gale force winds caused deep snow drifts in some rural areas in the region.

It is estimated that thousands of animals have died in the frost, plunging farmers into financial crisis.

Up to 140,000 homes and businesses were affected by power cuts and damage to the grid, but only one home remains to be reconnected, said Northern Ireland Electricity.

Police and Red Cross have been delivering food and care packages to areas where roads are impassable to cars.

The emergency services and mountain rescue have also been involved in attempts to get Northern Ireland back to its feet.

Minister O’Neill said she had spoken with the Secretary of State to request helicopter support from the MOD.

“I think it’s becoming very clear that that’s the only helicopter that’s going to be able to deliver the feed out onto the grounds,” she added.

The army has confirmed they will use helicopters to drop supplies to trapped families and farmers cut off by road.

DUP MLA Paul Frew is chair of Stormont’s Agriculture Committee. He believes more needs to be done and has called for help from the Territorial Army.

“I think we’ve to get people on the ground,” he said. “This is an emergency that’s happening before our eyes. This is about animal welfare and people will die.”

“The Territorial Army are in place for emergencies such as this and the engineering teams will have heavy plant which could help clear routes,” he said.

“Whilst DARD will not have machinery at its disposal, the Minister should recognise the emergency situation which exists and the dire need for help within some communities,” Mr Frew added.










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