Irish Coast Guard: Lives at risk by Ministers Safety Plan

Jan 11 2014 Posted by Office Administraton

The Irish Coast Guard has warned that the lives of both rescue staff and volunteers could be put at risk by a Maritime safety plan which was initiated six months ago by Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar. A report in today’s Irish Times says that Irish Coast Guard director Chris Reynolds warned that the proposals threatened “to tear up 30 years of progress” in marine safety, and said he believed Mr Varadkar had “not been sufficiently advised” of the full consequences of implementing them. (Full report Below) Documents seen by The Irish Times cite vehement opposition by both the Irish Coast Guard and Marine Survey Office (MSO) to the changes due to be implemented over the next year, which include reducing Donegal’s Malin Head Coast Guard station to a 12-hour watch rather than 24 hours, and cutting coast radio station staff by 18.5 per cent. The documents, some of which were released under the Freedom of Information Act, outline Irish Coast Guard and MSO opposition to the creation of what both say is a new layer of bureaucracy known as the Irish Maritime Administration (IMA). The body, approved by the Cabinet last July, was created on foot of two value-for-money consultancy studies of the Irish Coast Guard and MSO. The Irish Coast Guard is primarily responsible for emergency response to incidents on water, while the MSO monitors safety standards on boats and in ports. Mr Varadkar said at the time that the overhaul would have an “overriding emphasis on safety” and would “co-ordinate efforts more closely between the Irish Coast Guard and MSO”, both of which are sub-divisions within his department. He said he was committed to retaining all three Irish Coast Guard co-ordination/radio stations at Valentia, Co Kerry; Malin, Co Donegal; and Dublin; but said the new body would aim to integrate operations between the three. However, the details of the plan seen by this newspaper involve reducing Malin Head watch hours to 12, and renaming of Malin and Valentia as Marine Rescue Sub-Centre A and B under a single national marine co-ordination centre run from Dublin.


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