Thursday, 19 January 2023
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Coast Guard Service
100. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the measures he is taking to enhance the level of cover provided by the Irish Coast Guard service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1836/23]
The National Search and Rescue (SAR) Plan, published in 2019, sets out the objectives and priorities for SAR services and these are reviewed and adjusted periodically in order to improve effectiveness, efficiency and safety for all those involved. The National SAR Committee reviews the National SAR Plan and reports to the Minister for Transport on how the SAR Plan can be enhanced in line with emerging demands, technology and other factors.
The National SAR Committee is overseeing the phased implementation of the National SAR Plan. A number of key milestones were identified including the establishment of a virtual Joint Rescue Coordination Centre and ensuring effective SAR oversight and assurance mechanisms are in place. These and other programmes are set out in the second report from the National SAR Committee which was published in 2022 and can be found at gov.ie - The National Search and Rescue Plan (www.gov.ie)
With regard to the increasing the level of cover provided by the Irish Coast Guard, considerable progress has been made in improving interagency working through an extensive exercise programme with the Principal Response Agencies and Emergency Services. In advancing new technology, the Coast Guard has rolled out its new Drone programme and now has 16 operational Drone teams on the coast. Parallel to this project are improved decision support systems in the Rescue Coordination Centres and also improved support for the Coast Guard volunteer Units on the coast. This work is in addition to the new aviation procurement process currently underway for the Helicopter SAR service and the provision of a new fixed wing capability to support SAR and maritime casualty and pollution preparedness and response.