Thursday, 4 November 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
Coast Guard Service
I understand the so-called representative body the Coastal Unit Advisory Group, CUAG, is basically a grouping of officers in charge. That is a good body. I have no problem with it. That is a bit like saying that a collective of sergeants represents the workforce of An Garda Síochána across the board. That is not the case. The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors does not represent the entirety of An Garda Síochána. It never has. It never will. It was not set up to do so. I would ask the Minister of State to revisit that assumption.
I would also ask the Minister of State to look at the bigger issues. Why are so many leaving? As I say, people do not leave unless there is a problem. Unless management takes the problem and deals with it, it will not change.
The Minister of State mentioned Covid difficulties. There was an officer in charge in Crosshaven targeted for carrying out activities contrary to Covid, as in getting a rig out on the water when there were many similar boats all over the country up on social media. Why was he targeted?
The culture within the Coast Guard is if one speaks out for one's fellow volunteers, one is targeted. One is silenced. It is toxic and the Coast Guard will not survive that unless the Minister of State, at a political level, takes it in hand. There is no confidence in the most senior management among the volunteers. That is what they are - volunteers who risk their lives to try to protect others. We should never forget that. They deserve a lot better than what they are getting at present.