Thursday, 4 November 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
Coast Guard Service
I thank the Minister of State for coming into the Dáil to discuss this. Sometimes Ministers who are not from a particular Department take Topical Issue matters and I appreciate the fact she has come in to take this one. This is an issue which affects my constituency, which is evidenced by the fact that two of us raised this Topical Issue matter and it was also raised in other manners by other Deputies and Senators.
We need to get the Doolin Coast Guard unit reinstated but we need to address the issues that led us to where we are because the reality is there is a toxic working environment in the Coast Guard station in Doolin and there has been for some time. Unfortunately it is not unique to Doolin; it exists the length and breadth of this country. There is a lack of confidence in the most senior management in the Irish Coast Guard on behalf of the rank and file. They feel nobody has their back and they have no representative body, so if they speak out, they will be singled out for disciplinary measures where they will be accompanied by another volunteer. I appreciate there was an attempt to establish a representative body for them but the vast majority of those in it are former members rather than current members.
It is a morass and we will not solve it tonight but the Minister of State needs to take a long look at it. The Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, spoke about visiting Doolin and I was there myself when its lovely new shining Coast Guard station was opened. The officer in charge there was Mattie Shannon, a man who gave his lifetime to the Irish Coast Guard in Doolin. He left the Irish Coast Guard but the Minister of State should talk to him and ask him why he left. She should also talk to the many others who left the Doolin Coast Guard unit one by one. People of that sort of dedication do not leave unless there is something badly wrong. I ask the Minister of State not to talk to the head of the Irish Coast Guard. The head of the Irish Coast Guard will tell her a story but it will not be one that will be recounted by the rank and file on the ground.