Probe into laser light incident

March 13th, 2023 9:30 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

A laser light was trained on the Waterford-based Sikorsky S92 Coast Guard helicopter, described by gardaí as a serious incident. (Photo: Rescue 117/Facebook)

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GARDAÍ in Bandon are investigating a serious incident in which a green laser light was trained on a Coast Guard search and rescue helicopter while it was flying over Bandon and Ballineen last month.

The incident occurred  around 8pm on February 23rd as the S92 Waterford-based helicopter was flying over land from the south west coast to Waterford. 

No damage or injuries were caused, but gardaí said it could have had very serious consequences. A spokesperson for the Irish Coast Guard told The Southern Star that in accordance with procedures, the matter was reported to air traffic control in Cork, which in turn alerted gardaí.

‘The interference from a laser light is dangerous as it could impact on helicopter safety, or result in the interruption or significant delay in a search and rescue mission, or the transfer of a patient to hospital,’ the spokesperson added. A Garda spokesperson added  that enquiries are ongoing into the incident and ‘proactive patrols’ were immediately conducted in the West Cork area after gardaí were notified.

Cork South West FF TD Christopher O’Sullivan said it is ‘absolutely mindboggling’ that some ‘buffoon’ would shine a laser into a helicopter, which could have distracted the pilot.

‘The rescue helicopters provide such an incredible service to the people of Cork and right across Ireland. They are there to keep us safe, and it’s so important that we do everything we can to keep them safe too. We have to make every effort to prevent this type of reckless activity into the future,’ he said.

Meanwhile, Cork Airport has confirmed that they have not experienced any drone-related incidents at the airport of late. 

This is in marked contrast to several recent incidents at Dublin Airport, which has caused huge disruption to flights, with some being diverted.

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