The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Brian Lenihan T.D., along with the Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy, today launched the new Garda Helicopter, the second Eurocopter EC 135 which has been added to the Garda Síochána’s Air Support Unit.

Speaking at the launch of the new helicopter, the Minister said: "The Air Support Unit plays a vital role in supporting the work of An Garda Síochána in combating criminal activity and protecting the safety of the public. This new helicopter, with its state-of-the-art equipment, will greatly enhance that aerial support nationwide.

The acquisition of the new helicopter is a further example of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that An Garda Síochána has the necessary resources at its disposal to do its job effectively.

Since its establishment in 1997, the Air Support Unit has become an essential and effective support to Gardaí and I want to pay tribute to all involved in this Unit including the Garda Air support staff and members of the Air Corps. The effectiveness of the Unit is demonstrated by the contribution it makes to arrests – over 1,300 in the past three years – and also to search and rescue, with 14 persons located by the Air Support Unit in 2007 alone."

The new EC 135 helicopter is fitted with up to date police-role equipment and along with the other aircraft in the Air Support Unit it will provide round the clock support to Gardaí involved in a range activities such as major crime investigations, search and rescue, traffic and public order.

The Air Support Unit’s aircraft are piloted by the Air Corps and carry crews of Gardaí specially trained in the aerial support role.  The helicopters can also facilitate the rapid deployment of operational personnel when required.

15 January 2008