Alex Salmond has defended the response of the emergency services to the recovery of the bodies entombed in The Clutha bar.
The First Minister described the actions of the firefighters and other emergency services at the scene of the helicopter tragedy as “exemplary” and praised the courage of the rescue and recovery teams who had put their own lives on the line.
Responding to criticisms of the pace of the recovery operation by the father of one of the victims, Mr Salmond said: “Everyone understands the enormity of loss that is felt by the families.
“That is totally understandable. But everybody in this country knows and understands the extraordinary courage of our emergency services which has been displayed for all to see over the last four days.
“They have been conducting an operation in extraordinarily difficult circumstances going way, way above and beyond the call of duty as perhaps we expected, but nonetheless has been demonstrated. The work of the fire and rescue service has been absolutely impeccable.
“Everything which possibly could be done has been done – and it’s been done in a way which would make all of Scotland proud.
“Let me assure Scotland, as Scotland knows, that their performance has been extraordinary, impeccable and above and beyond the call of duty.
“Everyone understands the impact of the grief and the circumstances which have befallen families in Glasgow.
“But whether it’s the behaviour of its citizens or the response of our emergency services I know what the public feeling about this is – everybody is lining up rightly to commend the work of our emergency services.
“Let no-one in any sense suggest anything other than that they have gone above and beyond the call of duty and put their lives on the line to conduct that rescue operation.
“Every single person in Scotland can today be confident that faced with the enormity of the challenge – whether it be the citizens of Glasgow lending a helping hand or whether it be our emergency services – everyone can be proud and confident of the way they have conduced themselves.
“And that will continue through into the necessary investigation.”
Mr Salmond’s comments came after Ian O’Prey, whose son Mark was last night named among the dead, said he believed the recovery of the helicopter had taken precedence over removing bodies from the wreckage.
Owner vows to rebuild the pub as a ‘sort of memorial’
THE owner of The Clutha has vowed to rebuild the premises in “the same way it was before” the tragedy.
Alan Crossan, who has owned The Clutha for 12 years, visited the crash scene yesterday just as the helicopter was lifted from the pub’s roof.
Mr Crossan, who also owns the neighbouring Victoria bar, said he wanted to begin rebuilding as soon as he was able to.
“It wouldn’t be accepted if I didn’t do that. It has to be rebuilt, the same way it was before. We’ve obviously got to be sensitive about what we do – some sort of memorial. Got to be sensitive about that,” he said.
“It’s the people who matter. We can fix things [in the bar], no bother about that.”
The publican also said that Tennent’s brewery had offered to help pay for the rebuilding as well as offering to pay the wages of the dozen bar staff until the pub reopened.
Mr Crossan also spoke of the kindness and support he had experienced. This included a neighbour giving him four bags of shopping and people who had been bringing boxes of biscuits and pushing them through a fence for the emergency crews at the crash site to have. “This is Glasgow, isn’t it?” he said.
Mr Crossan, who lives in the South Side of the city, said he had received endless offers of help from joiners, plumbers and electricians offering their services to help with the rebuilding.
Prior to the accident he had submitted plans to the city council to build a roof terrace at the premises and said he was considering returning to that proposal.
He revealed he had felt “numb” after receiving a telephone call at his home on Friday night only minutes after the accident happened
“I’m just trying to keep as strong as I can to help our customers, to help our staff and deal with people like that.”