This article was added by the user . TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.

Visa rules stopped Derry ambulance crews responding to Creeslough gas explosion

Northern Ireland’s emergency services did, however, play a significant role in the aftermath of the Creeslough tragedy in October 2022. Photograph: NW Newspix

Some Northern Ireland ambulances were unable to rush to Creeslough, Co Donegal after last year’s gas explosion that killed 10 people because foreign-born paramedics on-board did not have visas that allowed them to cross the Border, it has emerged.

The disclosure about the Altnagelvin Hospital-based ambulances in Derry was made to an inquiry by the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly into the operation of the century-old Common Travel Area agreement between the Republic and the United Kingdom.

“Some ambulances from Northern Ireland could not assist during the explosion that occurred in Creeslough because not all of the paramedics had the necessary visas to cross the invisible border,” Fine Gael senator Emer Currie told the assembly.

Northern Ireland’s emergency services did, however, play a significant role in the aftermath of the Creeslough tragedy in October 2022, including crews from the NI Fire and Rescue Service, the air ambulance and ambulances.


Nevertheless, the Creeslough example was used to highlight the difficulties registration and visa regulations are causing for healthcare services in the Republic and Northern Ireland, especially for hospital consultants who treat patients on both sides of the Border.

On Wednesday, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) rejected the claim made by Senator Currie at the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly meeting that some ambulance crews were unable to offer aid after the Creeslough tragedy because visa rules prevented foreign-born paramedics crossing the Border.

In a statement, the service said: “We wish to put on record that the NIAS response to Creeslough was not affected in any way due to Border or visa issues.”

Meanwhile, cross-Border registration rules for medical professionals cause difficulties in social care, the committee led by Senator Currie told the full Assembly, which accepted her report and its list of recommendations.

Northern Ireland’s Western Health and Social Care Trust, which runs hospitals in Derry, Fermanagh and Tyrone, has eight children receiving social care in the Republic at any one time. This requires the registration of up to 30 staff for each case with Coru, the Republic’s Children Psychologists Service, imposing “an additional administration and financial burden” on the trust, the committee found.

Meanwhile, diverging visa rules between the Republic and the UK are causing problems for immigrants who enjoy legal rights to live in one jurisdiction, but not the right to travel between the two – including for medical treatments.

Cancer and paediatric cardiology services are being provided on an all-Ireland basis, while the Irish Government has funded cross-Border cancer treatments in the northwest: “However, not everyone can access these services,” the Assembly heard.

Divergences in immigration and residency regimes also pose challenges in education, with some foreign-born children being unable to join school tours, or to travel from Donegal through Northern Ireland to colleges in Dublin.

Mark Hennessy

Mark Hennessy

Mark Hennessy is Ireland and Britain Editor with The Irish Times