A car used by Pope Francis during his trip to Ireland is to be donated to a Derry search and rescue charity, Archbishop Eamon Martin has confirmed.
Last weekend, for Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland, two Skoda Rapid cars were used at various times to transport the pontiff during his two-day trip to locations in the Archdiocese of Dublin, and in the Archdiocese of Tuam.
Following a recommendation from Archbishop Eamon Martin, one of the cars used by Pope Francis has been offered to the volunteer charity.
Foyle Search and Rescue was set up by the local community in 1993 in response to the high number of drownings in the river Foyle.
The charity have since adopted the role of preventing suicide and supporting families in the city.
Archbishop Martin hailed the work of the charity, and commended volunteers selflessness.
“From my time as a priest ministering in Derry, I know well at first-hand how the local Foyle Search and Rescue volunteers work selflessly, and of their own free time, each week to help those who are vulnerable and in need,” he said.
“I also wish to avail of this opportunity to commend the exemplary volunteers who provide an educational programme on water safety and suicide awareness to local schools, workplaces and community groups.
“In addition, Foyle Search and Rescue facilitates the North West Bereaved by Suicide Support Group – which assists families and friends who have lost a loved one.”
The chairman of Foyle Search and Rescue, Stephen Twells, said the car would be a morale boost for the team.
He added: “Foyle Search volunteers are very honoured and most appreciative to be the recipients of this very kind gift.
“Pope Francis’ car will be provide a morale boost to our volunteers at this time, during what has been a very tough year for all of us in the city.
“I also know that this gift will be a great comfort to many families here in Derry knowing that we have been recognised by the Holy Father, and by Archbishop Martin, for the work that we do.”
Patrolling the fast flowing river on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, volunteers engage with people in distress, maintain lifebelts and save lives.
The blue Skoda Rapid will be given over to Foyle Search and Rescue in the coming days, and will be used by volunteers patrolling the shores of the River Foyle.
It will not be able to keep the number plate, SCV 1, which means Stato della Citta del Vaticano, ‘Vatican City’.
The other car has been gifted to social care agency of the Catholic church in Dublin, Crosscare.
Picture: Pope Francis leaves in a Skoda car following a meeting with Irish President Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina, at Aras an Uachtarain in Phoenix Park, Dublin, as part of his visit to Ireland. (Danny Lawson/PA).