- Oireachtas Transport Committee discussing Doolin Coast Guard
- Doolin branch must get back up and running
Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is calling for an urgent independent inquiry to be established to examine the central management system of the Irish Coast Guard.
The Oireachtas Transport Committee is sitting today, with Eugene Clonan, acting director of the Irish Coast Guard, Deirdre O’Keeffe, assistant secretary general at the Department of Transport, and other officials appearing before the members to discuss the ongoing controversy surrounding the Doolin station.
An independent mediator has been appointed in the form of Kieran Mulvey to oversee talks aimed at reaching a resolution in the dispute, but Deputy Crowe believes it is now time to take things one step further.
“The Irish Coast Guard, it appears to me, is in a state of organisational rot,” said Deputy Crowe.
“Since the Doolin Coast Guard controversy first emerged, I’ve been speaking extensively with volunteers associated with the station as well as the Irish Coast Guard Volunteers Representative Association.
“To quote directly from the ICGVRA – ‘Irish Coast Guard members are afraid to raise issues in coastguard units or with Irish coastguard management for fear of retribution by way of disciplinary action’.”
“This, simply, isn’t right and needs to be addressed by means of an independent inquiry into how the organisation’s central axis works – it’s clear to me that there are deep problems running from the higher echelons of management right down to each station around the country, and Doolin isn’t alone in experiencing this.
“Furthermore, and more urgently, I believe work needs to immediately be undertaken to get the Doolin Coast Guard station back up and running.
“All Doolin Coastguard volunteers live locally and are ready to respond within minutes.
“Other stakeholders, which are now expected to provide cover are too far away – the Kilkee Coast Guard Unit is 55 km away; the fire brigade based in Ennistymon 18km away; the Civil Defence in Ennis is 32km away.
“Perhaps most worryingly of all, the Aran Island lifeboat, operating in average sea conditions, takes about 60 mins, including launch time to get from Inis Mór to Doolin. The average launch time at Doolin is 15 to 20 minutes.
“A prolonged closure simply isn’t an option.
“We need action to be taken immediately to address the issues present in the Irish Coast Guard, for the safety of the volunteers but moreover to allow them to effectively continue to save the many lives they save on an annual basis.
“There is no other option here – we can’t afford to put this on the long finger.”