Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport

Irish Coast Guard: Discussion

Ms Deirdre O'Keeffe:

I will ask Mr. Clonan to deal with the competency issue as well as the organisation around the coast. In light of recent developments, for safety reasons, the team concerned had to be taken off the board. This was done for very good safety reasons, for the volunteers and for the public they serve in a very selfless and heroic way. This was a proportionate response having regard to the significant ongoing attempts by the Coast Guard to address the unfortunate differences that have existed in this particular unit for a number of years. The action was taken to ensure the safety of the volunteers themselves. It was also in compliance with search and rescue assurance obligations set out in the national search and rescue plan.

This does not mean a service is not available in the area. All the other Coast Guard units, shoreline and cliff rescue services remain in place, along with the four search and rescue Coast Guard helicopters. The RNLI, the community rescue boats and the Naval Service will continue to assist, particularly in those areas of greatest risk, until all the issues have been resolved.

I reiterate that with the appointment of the mediator, Mr. Kieran Mulvey, and with that work moving on quickly to the early part of next week, we hope those issues will be resolved. The team will go back on the board when it is safe for the volunteers and the community they serve to do so. We are working as hard as we can to ensure this happens as quickly as possible.