Theresa Villiers: “I’m extremely pleased that we were able to answer the Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill’s request for a military helicopter…”

Following a request yesterday from the Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister, Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill, to the Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, for “urgent access to helicopter support“, an RAF Chinook flew from its Hampshire base today to airlift supplies in order “to get food on the ground for stranded animals“.  [It’s just “a transport helicopter“! – Ed]  And the NI Agriculture Minister explained to UTV that the request was made “for helicopter support from the MOD” because it was “becoming very clear that’s the only type of helicopter that’s actually going to be able to deliver that feed out onto the ground.” [2m 54s into clip below] 

Those of a, erm, sensitive disposition can relax, though.  According to the latest UTV report, this afternoon the Sinn Féin MLA “spoke with the southern Justice Minister to seek immediate assistance from the Irish Air Corps to help those farmers and rural dwellers affected by the adverse weather.”  [Phew! That’s a relief! – Ed]

Still, probably not the best timing for Sinn Féin to be objecting to the RAF Red Arrows display team appearing at the Newcastle and Down District’s Summer Festival of Flight in August this year.

Oops!  Too late…

Down [Sinn Féin] councillor Eamonn Mac Con Midhe said: “The Red Arrows are using Down District to get publicity for the British Army.

“Let them tell the story about what they are doing in Afghanistan. When they came to Down District the last time, we were told these RAF pilots were all just home from Afghanistan.

“They are not doing festivals of flight in Afghanistan. Let them tell people what they are really doing in the war in Afghanistan.”