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An Taoiseach said he would refer the matter raised by Deputy Wynne to the Ministers for Transport and for Defence.

Taoiseach non-committal on coast guard leadership probe

AN TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar didn’t float or sink a call for the commissioning of an independent inquiry into the management of the Irish Coast Guard when questioned by a local Dáil deputy.

Speaking in the Dáil recently, Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne outlined Coast Guard volunteers selflessly give their time for others as part of Ireland’s fourth blue light emergency response.

“In coastal communities throughout Ireland, and in Clare, their role cannot be understated. The Irish Coast Guard Volunteers Representative Association is an organisation with which this House is now very familiar.

“Members of its national executive appeared before the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications.

“Its mission is very simple. It has two asks: a truly independent inquiry into the management of the Irish Coast Guard chaired by a retired High Court judge and the appointment of a permanent director of the Irish Coast Guard.

“Will the Government heed its calls and engage with it properly and meaningfully, as promised, to make these aims a reality?,” she asked.

The Taoiseach admitted he is a huge supporter of the Coast Guard and had the honour to work with its members for a number of years when he was Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

“There are some Commission on the Defence Forces proposals to bring the Coast Guard together with the Defence Forces, which we are examining at present.

“I do not want to give the deputy a definite “Yes” or “No” answer to her question, but I heard what she had to say.

“I will certainly make the Minister for Transport and the Minister for Defence aware that it was raised in the Chamber. They may come back to the Deputy directly,” he said.

In a Dáil question, Deputy Darren O’Rourke asked the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan if he will provide details of the staff and volunteer complement at Doolin Coast Guard unit; if he is satisfied that this unit is sufficiently experienced and competent and if there are immediate plans to further add to the staff complement at the unit.

Minister of State, Hildegarde Naughton said the Mulvey Report on Doolin Coast Guard was completed at the end of 2021 and made a number of recommendations, which she is pleased to say have since been implemented.

“Over the course of this year the Doolin Unit has been reconstituted with nine volunteers to date and continues to make good progress and I am informed the reconstituted unit is sufficiently experienced and competent.

“The Mulvey Report also recommended that the reconstituted Doolin Unit be allowed sufficient time to develop a culture of mutual respect and trust, and this process is on-going and I believe should be supported by all those interested in the Unit’s future success.

“I visited Doolin recently and heard first-hand of the positive work being undertaken in the Unit.

“I welcome this year’s very positive engagement between Irish Coast Guard (IRCG) management and IRCG volunteer representatives – the Coastal Unit Advisory Group – in agreeing a renewed and refreshed terms of reference for the Group and can confirm that the IRCG is committed to ongoing consultation and communication with all Coast Guard volunteers,” she said.

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