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Coast Guard representative body backs call for probe of leaders

A NATIONAL Coast Guard representative body is supporting calls from Clare’s Oireachtas members for the establishment of an independent review of the national management of the Irish Coast Guard organisation.

In a statement issued to the Clare Champion, the national executive of the Irish Coast Guard Volunteers Representative Association (ICGVRA) confirmed it fully supported calls from Clare deputies and senators for an independent inquiry into Irish Coast Guard management.

In last week’s Clare Champion, Senator Martin Conway called for fundamental review of Coast Guard operations throughout the country, provided it is independent and it includes a stipulation national management must cooperate as some personnel at national level have serious questions that need to be answered.

Deputy Cathal Crowe said he can’t see how Coast Guard units nationwide can perform to their optimum when the national organisation has inadequacies in terms of how it is being led.

Independent Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne said she would support an independent review once it provided the right platform to initiate significant change in the way the organisation is run at national level.

Deputy Michael McNamara said there is clearly a huge disconnect between management and units throughout the country.

Deputy Joe Carey is also supporting calls for a comprehensive independent review of the national management structure in the Coast Guard.

The ICGVRA stated it would like this inquiry to include the Minister of State with responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard Hildegarde Naughton, the Department of Transport including the Maritime Directorate and the Secretary General of the Department of Transport.

“The failure of the Irish Coast Guard management was highlighted at the Joint Oireachtas Committee last May when members of ICGVRA appeared and presented the many problems faced by Coast Guard volunteers particularly when any problems arise within Coast Guard coastal units.

“There were many unanswered questions after the appearance of the acting director of the Irish Coast Guard Eugene Clonan and the secretary general of the Department of Transport before the Joint Committee for Transport and Communications (JCTC) in October 2021 and just as many questions that need to be addressed after the appearance of the Coastal Unit advisory Group (CUAG) before the Transport committee last May.

“Only a truly independent inquiry can address the questions that need to be addressed.

“One important question is why has there not been a Director of the Irish Coast Guard appointed for more than five years. An acting director of the Irish Coast Guard has been in place for many years.

“Has this failure had a negative impact on the treatment of volunteers that have raised issues within this period?

“Does the acting director not have the authority to act on the many issues raised by volunteers over the past eight years in particular?”

Senator Martin Conway suggested in July 2019 that a retired High Court or Circuit Court judge should be put in charge of investigating grievance complaints made by Irish Coast Guard Volunteers.

The group stressed this never happened and claimed grievance complaints are ignored by the Coast Guard management.

“It might now be a good idea to apply this solution to the independent inquiry as suggested by TDs and Senators in the Clare Champion.”

Senator Conway has stated “that Doolin is the most high-profile case”, but he believes that there are many other similar situations in Coast Guard Units country wide.

The group confirmed there are issues in other units and claimed many “unjustly dismissed volunteers” would like to present their own individual case before any independent inquiry.

If a new Coast Guard director is appointed who has the authority to work and resolve many of the issues affecting volunteers, the group stated this would be another alternative and stressed it should have a role in any future solution as they are willing and ready to co-operate.

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