Sinn Féin TD for Clare, Violet-Anne Wynne, has expressed concern at the recent announcement of the Irish Coast Guard to take the Doolin branch ‘off the board’.
The instruction came from the Dublin head office and came in the wake of the resignation of six volunteers from the Doolin unit.
Teachta Wynne said:
“This is a devastating announcement for the local community, the loyal membership there, and for Clare more broadly.
“The resignation of six members in any given unit is cause for concern, especially long-serving members as is the case here.
“It is particularly worrying for Doolin, which is a critical point for activity at the Cliffs of Moher and the prominence of surfing along that section of coast.
“The Coast Guard there has provided invaluable multi-role services for many years, undertaking drone, cliff, boat and search operations. Their work provides both primary and secondary emergency responses to land and sea accidents.
“They respond to missing persons at sea, as well as act as a complementary ground unit air ambulances and other emergency response services.
“Having engaged with members, both current and former, I am alarmed by what I have been told.
“Members claim management has failed to deal with issues occurring across regional units. Management responses have divided communities and have hindered more than they have helped.
“Worse still, questions have been raised about the dismissal of members without due process, which have led to a deep sense of antagonism between membership and management.
“In response to Sinn Féin parliamentary questions, volunteer concerns have been fobbed off; we have been told that all is well.
“Although the ‘Coastal Sector Unit Advisory Group’ was set up to deal with some of these issues, I am informed it has amounted to little more than a talking shop.
“On October 23rd, the Irish Coast Guard Volunteer Representative Association was launched in Kilkee, mainly by ex-members who wish to unite their concerns and work towards resolving some of the systemic issues in the Coast Guard.
“As we have seen in Doolin, volunteers are walking away in sheer frustration. This simply cannot continue.
“Talking to representatives across the country today, including several from Doolin and other areas of Clare, opened my eyes to the issues at play here.
“I have been told that one Clare member has resigned after 31 years of service due to the ongoing issues with management.
“For rural communities of Clare, this cannot continue. The supplementary emergency response units such as Coast Guard operations must be supported to continue their good work.
“I have written to Minister Ryan and asked for his intervention on this issue as it is clear internal governance and disciplinary protocols are not effective.
“Action must be taken before more critical units are taken off the board, and operations at the Doolin unit must be restored as soon as possible.”