Army to take to the streets again

The army is set to be on the streets of towns across Donegal for at least the next two days in one of the biggest deployments there has been in the county in recent times.

The army is set to be on the streets of towns across Donegal for at least the next two days in one of the biggest deployments there has been in the county in recent times.

Soldiers will be helping clear streets and ensure there is access to public buildings such as hospitals from this morning following a second request in three days for assistance from Donegal County Council.

Troops have also been providing essential assistance to the Health Service Executive and gardai, transporting medical staff to work and taking medicine to people in remote parts of the county using army four-wheeled drive vehicles.

Over the weekend nurses and doctors were transported to work at Letterkenny General Hospital.

The army has also been transporting health care workers to the homes of people who need medical assistance across the county. All these requests have been made by the HSE and the army says it cannot take such requests from members of the public.

Army vehicles have also been used to transport gardai to check on people living in remote areas of the county.

Troops from the 28th Infantry battalion based at Finner Camp will be deployed in Letterkenny, Carndonagh, Glenties, Milford, and Bundoran today following a request from the council yesterday to help.

At the weekend troops were deployed to Letterkenny, Bundoran, Ballyshannon, Donegal Town, Buncrana, Ballybofey and Dungloe on Saturday to help clear roads following a request from Donegal County Council late on Friday night.

The soldiers will be helping keep shopping areas clear and ensuring access to hospitals, doctors' surgeries, pharmacies and schools.

The county council says it is likely to request the help of the army on Wednesday as well.

Captain Declan Sheridan of the 28th Infantry Battalion said soldiers would be helping the local authority staff clear snow and ice and put down grit. "We are basically supplying the manpower. We have no specialist equipment. The county council is supplying us with trucks and shovels and grit and we provide the manpower." He stressed that the deployments could only be made on request from the local authorities. "We never take to the streets unless it comes through the local authorities or the agency in power, we don't have the authority."

Captain Sheridan said the deployment was one of the biggest in the county for some time, adding it was likely soldiers could be needed in the county until the end of the week.

The 28th Infantry Battalion covers Sligo and Leitrim as well as Donegal and the army is also expecting call outs in those counties.

During the severe weather last winter the army was deployed in Co. Leitrim but not in Donegal.