Northern Ireland

Co Donegal: Mountain rescue launched after fireworks mistaken for distress flares

Donegal Mountain Rescue was called out at 1.30am on New Year's Day when fireworks were mistaken for distress flares on Mount Errigal

A “full team” mountain rescue effort was launched on Co Donegal’s Mount Errigal on New Year’s Eve when fireworks were mistaken for distress flares.

The Donegal Mountain Rescue Team (DMRT) has urged people to be more responsible when accessing mountains after its teams were called out at 1.29am on New Year’s Day.

The largest mountain in Co Donegal, Errigal’s spectacular cone shape has made it an iconic image of the entire county.

A new pathway was opened on the mountain earlier this year to curb damage by walkers. The pathway has also made Errigal more accessible to casual walkers.

A DMRT spokesman said the organisation was called out after members of the public reported flares from the west Donegal mountain.

“A full team call-out was launched and call out protocols were initiated by the call-out coordinators,” he said.

“It was later established that persons who went up Errigal for the New Year had launched what we suspect to be fireworks, not flares, and the reported flashing lights were the persons returning to the car park.

“The team stood down at 03.25am, having established that no cars were in the Errigal car park at this time.”

While DMRT encouraged everyone to enjoy the county’s mountains, day or night, it is important to remember that flashing lights at night could be easily mistaken for people in distress, the spokesman added.

“As for the setting off of flares or fireworks, this raises the call-out to a higher level.

“Thankfully the call out that morning was dealt with quickly and no-one was injured.”

DMRT was called out again to Errigal later on New Year’s Day when a member of the public suffered a lower leg injury as they descended down the mountain.

As no rescue helicopter was available, DMRT had to bring the injured person down the mountain on a stretcher using ropes.

The DMRT spokesman said 25 people were involved in the rescue.