Page last updated at 12:52 GMT, Tuesday, 16 June 2009 13:52 UK

Call for NI air ambulance probe

Air ambulance - generic
The charity hopes to launch a service in November

Northern Ireland's new charities commission should investigate a fundraising campaign for an air ambulance, a former Ards mayor said.

It follows news that the Ireland Air Ambulance charity has raised £700,000 in public donations, but spent £500,000 on wages and costs.

Ards Council considered setting up an air ambulance several years ago, but decided it wasn't feasible.

However, the charity said it needed to develop its fundraising programmes.

Former Ards mayor, Alderman Ronnie Ferguson, said questions needed to be answered.

"We had looked at all this going back nine years ago before this charity was actually formed," he said.

"But the figures didn't stack up and certainly there needs to be some investigation by the new Charities Commission."

In a statement, the charity said that in order to ensure that air ambulances charities build a sustainable and stable income year after year, they need to develop both the fundraising programs required to raise finances, as well as running an emergency service.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has said he does not believe there is sufficient demand for the service.

The IAA has said it hopes to launch the service in November, although to date it has not found anywhere to base its helicopter.

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