Written answers

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Search and Rescue Service

Photo of Michael McGrathMichael McGrath (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on his action plan to address concerns regarding maritime transport and marine emergency response; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57214/12]

Photo of Alan KellyAlan Kelly (Tipperary North, Labour)
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The Deputy' question relates to the development of the action plan relating in response to Value for Money (VFM) reports on the Irish Coast Guard (IRCG) and the Marine Survey Office (MSO).

The recommendations of the two reports focus on achieving efficiencies through better utilisation of existing resources and the deployment of resources to areas they believe constitute significant gaps in service provision. The recommendations include strengthening business processes and the introduction of appropriate integrated IT systems to underpin more efficient service delivery. The need to address specific gaps in services, in particular in relation to oil pollution preparedness, prevention and response, Coast Guard volunteer training and oversight and the enduring backlogs in the transposition of international legislation, are highlighted, as is the need for more accountability based on greater transparency and better management information and the need to enhance risk assessment and mitigation in a number of respects.

My Department is finalising the action plan to respond to the VfM recommendations and it is expected that this will be completed early in the new year and will be submitted to Government then. The Department's analysis of the recommendations entails very detailed consideration of the options available for action, including obtaining additional external consultancy advice on the operation of the three Coast Guard co-ordination centres in Dublin, Malin and Valentia. It is however important to recognise that resources available to the maritime services are very limited and they have to be deployed on a prioritised basis and as effectively and efficiently as possible to address the most urgent needs.

On foot of this analysis Minister Varadkar advised the House that after careful consideration of the various options available it is his intention to propose that the three Coast Guard co-ordination centres will remain open and that none will be closed. Rather, through the utilisation of the most modern communications and IT infrastructure across a single national Coast Guard network, Minister Varadkar will be proposing that the three centres will be more closely aligned and integrated. The three centres will continue to deliver services but will be required to deliver new efficiencies in how these services are provided.

As part of the action plan Minister Varadkar will propose to address a number of related matters affecting or associated with the delivery of maritime safety and emergency response services highlighted in other reports, such as the recent review of Ireland's emergency towing services as part of the Programme for Government and audits undertaken internally, by the EU and the International Maritime Organisation.


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