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AN URGENT independent inquiry needs to examine the central management system of the Irish Coast Guard, a Clare TD has said.

Acting Director of the Irish Coast Guard, Eugene Clonan and Deirdre O’Keeffe assistant secretary general at the Department of Transport appeared before the Oireachtas Transport Committee in the past week where the ongoing controversy surrounding the standing down of the Doolin unit was discussed.

As first reported by The Clare Echo, former Workplace Relations Commission Chair Kieran Mulvey has been appointed as an independent mediator to oversee talks aimed at reaching a resolution in the dispute following the resignation of six members of the Doolin unit.

Matters need to be taken further, Deputy Cathal Crowe (FF) believed. “The Irish Coast Guard, it appears to me, is in a state of organisational rot”. He claimed that members of the Coast Guard are “afraid to raise issues in coastguard units or with Irish coastguard management for fear of retribution by way of disciplinary action”.

“This, simply, isn’t right and needs to be addressed by means of an independent inquiry into how the organisation’s central axis works – it’s clear to me that there are deep problems running from the higher echelons of management right down to each station around the country, and Doolin isn’t alone in experiencing this,” he added.

Crowe said it was time to get back Doolin Coast Guard back up and running. “All Doolin Coastguard volunteers live locally and are ready to respond within minutes. Other stakeholders, which are now expected to provide cover are too far away – the Kilkee Coast Guard Unit is 55 km away; the fire brigade based in Ennistymon 18km away; the Civil Defence in Ennis is 32km away. Perhaps most worryingly of all, the Aran Island lifeboat, operating in average sea conditions, takes about 60 mins, including launch time to get from Inis Mór to Doolin. The average launch time at Doolin is 15 to 20 minutes”.

He concluded, “a prolonged closure simply isn’t an option. We need action to be taken immediately to address the issues present in the Irish Coast Guard, for the safety of the volunteers but moreover to allow them to effectively continue to save the many lives they save on an annual basis. There is no other option here – we can’t afford to put this on the long finger.”

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