After wildfires, Council must plan for future, says McMurray

Newry, Mourne and Down Council has unanimously backed Alliance Councillor Andy McMurray’s calls to recognise the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and the Irish Air Corps for their hard work in tackling recent forest fires in the area.

A number of fires were reported in the vicinity of both Tollymore and Donard Forests after an unusually hot July, with the Council now set to put in place a new plan to deal with future situations at Councillor McMurray’s request.

He added: “I’m delighted the have received the backing of all Councillors, sending a strong message that we recognise and appreciate the hard work, dedication and risks that were taken to ensure our local are remained undamaged.

“From the Irish Air Corps to the NI Fire and Rescue Service and all the unseen helpers, those tasked with tackling these fires are too humble to seek out praise and so it is fitting we take this step publicly – as so many members of the public have already done. It didn’t take long for local people to rally in sending supplies to all working to tackle the fires.

“This was a definite near miss and we must do more to protect our natural environment from future threats. Whether this was a deliberate act, or the product of thoughtless littering, we cannot risk the economic and environmental consequences of losing the forest.

“Moving forward, I’m delighted the Council will now be examining its own protocol and policy relating to forest fires, assessing what and how we can act differently to deal with these kinds of incidents.

“Our aim is to be the Outdoor Capital of Ireland, but to do so will involve more than just a soundbite, but rather planning, educating and working with others to ensure we fulfil this potential.”

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