Ambulance service 'refutes' claims visa issues prevented staff from helping in Creeslough

The devastating Creeslough petrol station blast.
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service have 'refuted' claims that some of its staff were prevented from aiding with the Creeslough tragedy due to visa issues.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance sercvice have "refuted" claims that some of its staff were prevented from aiding with the Creeslough Tragedy due to visa issues.

The NIAS have said it's response was "not affected in any way due to border or visa issues" and that "No NIAS staff were prevented in crossing the border for any reason".

The British-Irish Parlimentary Assembly said it had heard claims earlier in the week that a number of paramedics from Northern Ireland had been unable to cross the border as they lacked the necessary visas to enter Ireland.

10 people were killed on October 7 2022 after an explosion at Applegreen Service Station, Creeslough, Co Donegal.

The NIAS said that it received an emergency call for assistance from the ambulance service in Donegal at 15:37 on the day of the explosion.

NIAS added: "NIAS immediately dispatched a range of resources including the Air Ambulance with our Helicopter Emergency Medical Team, our specialist Hazardous Area Response Team, ambulance officers, paramedics and emergency medical technicians as well as some of our non-emergency transport crews to assist our colleagues in the National Ambulance Service.

"NIAS dispatched further crews on the evening of the 7th of October to relieve those who had responded during the afternoon."

The Ambulance service said that they were "deeply concerned" at any reports suggesting visa issues had hindered their response as such reports "will be deeply upsetting to the victims and families who were and still are affected by this tragedy."

In a statement in response to the Ambulance service's comments, Director of the North West Migrants Forum, Lilian Seenoi Barr said: “It is very clear that healthcare professionals based in Derry who require Irish visas cannot cross the border without a visa.

“Having spoken to people involved, this is a recurring issue and would have been during the Creeslough tragedy.

“This does not mean the Ambulance Service were unable to fully respond to the tragedy with other staff. But this remains a recurring problem.”

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