IRISH Coast Guard operations manager Declan Geoghegan has confirmed to The Clare Champion that the Kilkee Coast Guard Unit is likely to be fully operational in the coming week. However, the town will be without the service for the June Bank Holiday weekend, which is traditionally one of the busiest of the summer season in Kilkee.
Following the tragic death of coast guard volunteer, Catríona Lucas, on September 12, 2016, the Kilkee unit ceased to provide a full water-based search and rescue service.
The unit has not been fully operational in the town for nine months, which is the longest inactive period since the Kilkee Marine Rescue and Recovery Service was established in 1981.
Mr Geoghegan confirmed that training has taken place for current Kilkee Coast Guard members and that they will be subject to an inspection in the coming days.
“We will be putting in an ORA [Operational Readiness Assessment] team. Subject to that, the unit will be on the water and up and running within a week.
“They have been training and we have had a contractor in there doing the training,” he explained.
Mr Geoghegan said he did not know when the report on the tragic events of last September will be published.
“We wouldn’t have any access to or information on what the Marine Casualty Investigation Board are doing. They are an autonomous body. The only contact we have with them is if they look for information from a technical or training aspect. But they don’t divulge any information,” he stated.
The Clare Champion contacted the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, who could not confirm when the investigation findings will be released.
“This investigation is on-going. The board does not comment on ongoing investigations. A report will be published in due course on our website www.mcib.ie,” the short statement said.
Meanwhile, The Clare Champion has learned that three people involved in the rescue of Jenny Carway in Kilkee on September 12, 2016 were not contacted by the investigation team for their observations.
Brian Clohessy, Stephen Little and Paddy Keane rescued Ms Carway from the water.
She was one of three people, along with James Lucey and the late Ms Lucas, that were thrown into the Atlantic when the Irish Coast Guard RIB rescue boat capsized.
The three men, who have 16 years of marine experience apiece, were located at the opposite side of the bay, in the East End slipway in Kilkee, when they were asked to launch. They had been in the area to help in the search for the late David McMahon.
Their boat was in the trailer attached to their jeep, when the alarm was raised.
“A garda sergeant ran down and said we needed to launch, that a boat had capsized. We launched and we were on the scene within five minutes. We really raced there,” Mr Clohessy explained at the time.
Separately, the founder of Kilkee Marine Rescue, Manuel Di Lucia, said former members have offered to lend assistance to the current Kilkee Coast Guard Unit.
“Kieran Deloughrey [chief coxen of the former Kilkee Marine Rescue] has been on to Declan Geoghegan offering his services and that of at least 10 more people, who are fully trained and upskilled,” Mr Di Lucia confirmed.
They have not been taken up on the offer he noted.
By Peter O’Connell