Sinn Féin TD for Clare Violet-Anne Wynne has replied to Minister Hildegarde Naughton’s dismissal of the Doolin Coast Guard unit being “off the board” and unable to respond to either land or sea incidents.
Teachta Wynne said:
“Minister Naughton’s comments from early this week stating that units not being operational for certain periods of time as being ‘common practice’ disguises the actual issues at play. Her comments also do not address the urgency and regional significance of the Doolin unit specifically.
“To dismiss the concerns of the community and make out that issues with the unit is business as usual is disingenuous, and disregards the very serious health and safety concerns of the membership there. The issues have been left unaddressed for years, despite volunteers raising them repeatedly.
“The Doolin unit now has 12 standing members that are willing to resume operations. They have over 175 years of experience between them and the nominated Directing Officer in Charge has experience in the role for 30 years.
“The cancellation of an assessment for two other volunteers this week is insult to injury as this assessment was essential for the Doolin rescue team re-building moving forward.
“Suggesting that Kilkee CGU can respond to the calls that Doolin would usually take responsibility for is misguided and regionally naïve, as Kilkee are not a cliff-climbing trained unit.
“Doolin is the only unit capable of appropriately responding to any and all cliff-based incidents from Black Head to Loop Head.
“Inis Mór has an all-weather boat but travel time to Doolin is 60 minutes, while Inis Óirr doesn’t even have a rescue boat.
“So reference to these CGUs filling in for Doolin is unfortunately not true, as neither can be of timely assistance for incidents that occur on the coastline in and around Doolin.
“While it is welcome that the Department of Transport has announced it will nominate an external mediator to resolve the issues in Doolin, that is only the tip of the ice-berg. There are systemic, organisational problems within the Senior Management of the Irish Coast Guard.
“I will continue to raise this in the Dáil, until a contingency plan has been provided to get Doolin back on the board, but also I will continue to advocate for volunteers across the country who cannot access fair representation and who feel like their voices are not being heard.”