One of the country’s busiest Coast Guard units will begin the move from a 150-year-old shed to a new state-of-the-art €1.9m station today.
The 25-strong Doolin unit in north Clare currently operates from a building which isn’t even big enough to accommodate either of the unit’s search and rescue boats.
The tiny stone building is prone to flooding and was extensively damaged on two occasions during the storms that bashed the west coast last January and February.
The existing facility has no toilet or shower facilities for members or even an area to treat casualties or lay out a body.
The team’s custom-built €250,000 Delta RIB (rigid inflatable boat) has to be towed 2 kilometres by tractor from a members home where it’s stored.
Parking problems in Doolin village and close to the pier have at times delayed the launch of the rescue boat.
The unit covers a wide area of north and west Clare while the team is also responsible for Inis Oírr, the smallest of the Aran Islands, where 7 more volunteers are based.
A new station had been previously promised in 2006 by the then Transport Minister Martin Cullen who said he regarded the provision of such a facility as “a very high priority”.
However, the €1.5m that had been set aside for the project was suddenly “no longer available” further delaying plans to develop the station.
Fifteen years after locals began their campaign for a new station, work on the new building began last July while today the keys will be handed over to Irish Coast Guard Area Officer Mr Mattie Shannon.
“We are delighted with the move. As the unit expanded and got busier over the years, the need has grown for a facility which can accommodate all the extra equipment we have acquired,” Mr Shannon said.
“A new station is essential to ensure that our resources as a modern day rescue service are used to their potential. We can now start moving our boats, vehicles and equipment into the new station,” he added.
The new station comprises an area for the storage of the unit’s boats and their extensive cliff rescue equipment as well as changing facilities and an operations room.
The base is also considerably closer to the pier from where the unit launches it’s rescue boats.
It’s expected that an official opening ceremony will be held in October.