December 17, 2021
Department handling of Doolin Coast Guard issue ‘scandalous’ – Violet-Anne Wynne TD

Sinn Féin TD for Clare Violet-Anne Wynne has spoken out in response to the announcement that the Doolin Coast Guard is being stood down permanently yesterday.

Following several high-profile resignations in October, the Department of Transport stood down the Doolin Coast Guard on the 1st of November.

The grievances between membership and management are extremely entrenched. 

Since the Doolin Unit’s human resources have become common knowledge, Coast Guard units up and down the county have come forward with their shared stories of discontent with the senior management of the Coast Guard. 

Issues include inadequate complaints procedures, intimidation and lack of industrial relations protocols.

Teachta Wynne said:

“The announcement made by the Department in recent days off the back of the Mulvey report is absolutely scandalous.

“The Department of Transport is burying its head in the sand and refusing to take seriously the very real, and very legitimate concerns of the volunteers.

“Let’s bear in mind that some of these individuals have given decades of their lives to the local search & rescue operations. They are pillars of the community.

“Something is very wrong in the Governance and senior management of the Irish Coast Guard, and the attitude towards its invaluable membership when anyone who is speaking out of line is simply removed from the unit and excommunicated.

“The issues between membership and management run deep and are pervasive across the country – it’s not just Doolin. The experiences of disillusioned Doolin members are not isolated incidents and are symptomatic of a bigger, institutional issue.

“The attempts by the ICG and the Department of Transport to dismiss the self-organised representative organisation of the ‘Volunteers Representative Association’ officially launched in October to afford true representation to volunteer coastguards are cause for concern. 

“ICG officials are insisting that the Coastal Unit Advisory Group (CUAG) is the lead representative organisation but that is not within that body’s terms and references. There is deliberate manipulation of relationships and reputations at play here.

“The response by the Department has shown that the Government is complicit in perpetuating the ideas that volunteers are disposable without ensuring the management undergoes a corresponding review or evaluation.

“The decision to completely stand down the Doolin Unit, and then ‘reconstitute’ or reappoint members based purely on who was well behaved and who was making waves is absolutely unacceptable. More of the same dubious management from the Department – no clarity or transparency about who will be called back on board.

“The fact that this announcement has been made the week before Christmas has devastated the Doolin Unit members who have basically been apportioned all of the blame and told they are no longer welcome in the Coast Guard.

“Also, making this decision known just as the Dáil is entering a recess phase is under-handed and an attempt to minimise the attention and media drawn to the debacle.

“There’s something very wrong with the core of the ICG management – something is rotten at the core, and until it is addressed at this central level no amount of band-aiding or fire-fighting will resolve the under-lying issues.”

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