Eamonn: Emergency helicopter could have saved dad
Eamonn Holmes has backed calls for an air ambulance for Northern Ireland - believing that if one had been available 25 years ago it may have saved his father's life.
The TV presenter lent his voice to the growing campaign for emergency medical air transport in the wake of the death of Dr John Hinds, the 'racing doctor' of motorcycle road racing.
He had been the leading voice for an air ambulance, having seen how speed was of the essence when it came to getting his road racing patients to hospital.
The widely-respected Tandragee medic, who was also an intensive care consultant and anaesthetist at Craigavon Hospital, died after a crash in a practice session for the Skerries 100.
Eamonn's father Len died of a heart attack on the road between Ballycastle and Armoy in 1991. The presenter said he, more than anyone, saw the need for an air ambulance, but realised the new technology came at a high price.
The Sky News anchor told the Belfast Telegraph: "You often wonder what would've happened had there been something else.
"When I saw this campaign, I thought of my father."
More than 30,000 people have put their names to an online petition calling for the Health Minister to get a local air ambulance off the ground, but Eamonn said the sums need to add up.
He said: "I don't think we can justify asking any minister to write the cheque for this when we've got a health budget that's already under great stress.
"If we want it, we've got to work out a way to pay for it. Maybe there are philanthropists, or companies that want to step forward, or maybe it's shared with the Republic.
"Dr Hinds saw the need for an air ambulance and the dream should not die with him, but we've got to be realistic about it."