Clare Independent TD Michael McNamara has questioned Junior Transport Minister Hildegarde Naughton about the standing down of the Doolin unit of the Irish Coast Guard.
In Dáil Éireann, during Topical Issues, Deputy McNamara sought answers from the Department on how the standing down of the unit will be remedied and how the underlying problems within the service will be addressed.
A total of six long-serving volunteers, including the unit’s officer in charge (OIC) confirmed on Monday they were leaving the service with immediate effect. The resignees, who had 100 years experience and service between them.
The Doolin unit has been long recognised as one of the top Irish Coast Guard teams in the country with highly trained and dedicated members qualified in a multitude of competencies.
Following Monday’s resignations, Coast Guard management in Dublin confirmed that the Doolin team had been stood down and that they would not be tasked to any emergencies.
The spokesperson added: “The Irish Coast Guard also acknowledges the divisions that have unfortunately existed within the unit for a number of years, and recognises the strenuous efforts and leadership displayed by many members of the unit, its management team in particular, and other stakeholders to address these difficulties.
The Irish Coast Guard will continue to offer support to all those affected by this event, and with the aim to strengthen the unit’s management structure, provide relevant training and mediation services as may be required, and return the unit to operational readiness as quickly as practicable.”
It’s understood that these stakeholders include the Kilkee Coast Guard unit; Kilrush RNLI in-shore lifeboat; the Aran Islands RNLI all-weather lifeboat; Clare County Fire and Rescue Service; Clare Civil Defence as well as cave and mountain rescue organisations.
It has also emerged that a team of volunteers from the Ballybunion unit of the Coast Guard in Kerry will be made available to respond to calls in the Doolin area if required. The journey by road is over 150 kilometres and would take over two hours so it’s understood volunteers and their equipment will be flown by helicopter the Doolin if needed.
In the Dáil tonight, Minister of State Naughton told Deputy McNamara said the standing down of the unit is a temporary measure and full cover had been provided until such time that the Unit is reinstated.