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Members of Kilkee Coastguard.

protest to highlight Kilkee Coast Guard concerns

A public protest aimed at highlighting issues relating to the provision of water-based rescue services
in Kilkee, will take place on Thursday, October 12 at 7pm.

It will be held beside the Irish Coast Guard station at the East End car park in the town.

One of the groups represented will be the Kilkee Boat and Fishing Club. Ray O’Halloran, who is a member, was keen to point out that his reason for protesting is linked to the structure of the Kilkee Coast Guard Unit and has nothing to do with the volunteers.

Currently, the local unit is not allowed to pass George’s Head on a rescue mission.

“I’m not protesting against the guys that are in there. I have great admiration for them because they are doing a voluntary
job and they are the first people that I would call or depend on.

“The protest that I’m involved in has nothing to do with the people involved, it’s to do with the structure.

“There is no structure. At the moment, they are not allowed out beyond George’s Head. I’m fishing 50 years and they are not ngoing beyond the head this year. If they went out three or four times, that was as much as they did.

“A lot of people didn’t even launch their boats this year because if something happened, there was nobody there to help.

“That’s not the fault of the locals. That’s the fault of the powers that be at the top,” Mr O’Halloran claimed.

““I have nothing against the guys that are currently volunteers but the structure that was there before complemented everybody.

“It was local people who knew the sea and people who were involved in the community.

“It’s like as if there has been a wedge driven in the community because of what has been going on. I don’t know what’s going on but I do know that I’m a member of Kilkee Boat and Fishing Club and there were very few boats going in and out to sea this year.

“You’d be very conscious that if you were out 20 or 30 miles that you’d want to have the coast nguard operating in the Kilkee area. For some reason, they are not being allowed by the coast guard. We’re depending on Doolin
Coast Guard now.

“The guys that are currently volunteering would have no problem going out if there was something wrong but they’re now allowed,” he added.

Manuel Di Lucia, founder of Kilkee Marine Rescue, which was taken over by the Irish Coast Guard in 2013, is also backing the protest.

“It’s a protest against the lack of a comprehensive marine rescue service in the area. Kilkee hasn’t been without this service
for the last 30-odd years and all of a sudden, in the last 13 months, we don’t have a full service.

“The people of Kilkee, Limerick and across West Clare have been helping to fund it for the last 30 years. Former members of Kilkee Marine Rescue feel aggrieved at the current situation because of the lack of water rescue services in our area.

“The current situation is not satisfactory to the people of Kilkee.”

The Clare Champion contacted Declan Geoghegan, operations and training officer at the Irish Coast Guard for a comment but he was unavailable at the time of going to press.

Peter O’Connell

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