Two helicopters from the Air Corps have delivered aid to farmers and winched two people to safety in Northern Ireland where heavy snow has left thousands of sheep stranded in isolated areas.

The helicopters dropped fodder and provisions in Co Down around Dromara, Castlewellan and Slieve Croob.

The two people rescued were climbers who had gone missing in the Limavaddy area of Co Derry.

Three British army helicopters were also involved in the emergency aid operation.

Elsewhere, Fianna Fáil's Éamon Ó Cuív said the Government "rightly" decided to help farmers in Northern Ireland.

Speaking in the Dáil, he welcomed the decision but said farmers in the Republic also need help.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said there is no doubt the weather is hard on farmers and there is a question over cash-flow and access to fodder.

He said Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney had written to the banks to urge them to take a flexible approach when dealing with farmers' short-term loans.

Mr Gilmore said that Teagasc is also offering advice to farmers and its advisors are taking calls from farmers to answer questions.