As a precaution Irish Coast Guard helicopter operations off the east and south-east coast are being restricted to daytime operations only because of the movement of a volcanic ash cloud over Ireland.
The Department of Transport this afternoon will chair a meeting of the Government Taskforce on Emergency Planning, concerning the ongoing issue involving the volcanic ash cloud. The meeting will take place in the National Emergency Co-ordination Centre. Departments and agencies involved include the Department of Transport, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Health and Children, the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport, An Garda Siochana, Met Eireann, the Irish Aviation Authority and the DAA.
The volcanic ash cloud is being carefully monitored in conjunction with Met Eireann and the UK Met Office.
As a precaution, in line with other restrictions on aviation, Irish Coast Guard helicopter operations off the east and south-east coast are being restricted to daytime operations only. (That is, sunset 20:30z and sunrise 04:30z). Coast Guard helicopter operations out of Shannon and Sligo continue to operate normally, on a 24-hour basis.
The consequence of this move is that for tonight, the Dublin and Waterford-based helicopters, which are already in the area of risk, shall not be able to fly during the hours of darkness. However, Shannon and Sligo shall operate as normal but will also be required to remain clear of the area of risk during the hours of darkness.
It should however be noted that the Dublin and Waterford crews remain on standard availability. This will allow the Coast Guard's Dublin Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre to have crew available and ready to take off at first light should it be necessary.
It has been assessed that this will provide the best risk reduction to the aircraft while also maintaining the service as fully as possible.
The Irish Coast Guard has requested the Department of Defence to position a naval patrol vessel offshore in the south-east, to strengthen search and rescue capability area during this period. All RNLI lifeboats in the area are available and on standby.
A further statement will issue following the conclusion of the inter-departmental task force meeting later today.