The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport has admitted how surprised he was to learn that one of the busiest Coast Guard units in Ireland operated from a tiny 150-year-old shed before their new station was built last year.
Minister Paschal Donohue TD was in Doolin Co Clare yesterday where he officially opened a new €1.9m state-of-the-art base for the local volunteer service.
The 25-strong Doolin unit had operated from a shed that wasn’t even big enough for their smallest rescue boat. The tiny building was prone to flooding, had no toilet or shower facilities for members or even an area to treat casualties or lay out a body. It was also extensively damaged on two occasions during last years storms.
The new station however allows the unit store all of it’s boats, vehicles and equipment in one location closer to the pier from where the launch.
Provision of the facility followed a campaign, that spanned over two decades, to see the unit moved to an adequate and more suitable building.
Minister Donohue said yesterday: “I was really surprised but it’s a real tribute to the Coast Guard that in a very different facility they still managed to provide the level of service that they did. Where they are now, this new centre is due recognition of all they do for our country and for the west coast.”
“The project has been in the pipeline for many years and provides one of the busiest Coast Guard Units in the country with an operations and training room, changing facilities, wet room, store room and a large garage within which to store boats, road transport and cliff rescue equipment,” the Minister added.
A new station had been previously promised in 2006 by the then Transport Minister Martin Cullen who said he regarded the provision of such a facility as “a very high priority”.
However, the €1.5m that had been set aside for the project was suddenly “no longer available” further delaying plans to develop the station. Work on the new station was completed last August.
Irish Coast Guard Director, Chris Reynolds, said: ‘The Doolin Unit has a long and proud tradition that dates back to 1937 when a Coastal Life Saving Service was established locally. The professionalism and commitment that was displayed in those early days continues to be the hallmark of the unit.
In recent years it has been one of the busiest teams in the country providing cliff rescue services, boat rescue and shoreline search services, coupled with support for Coast Guard helicopters as well as supporting and assisting the other statutory and voluntary services,’ Mr Reynolds added.
Irish Coast Guard Officer in Charge in Doolin Mr Mattie Shannon said: “This is a magnificent facility and makes our work an awful lot easier. The volunteers now have an area to relax after a callout and prepare before one. Most importantly, all our boats, vehicles and equipment are in one place. It’s been a long time coming but it is a most welcome development.”
Mr Shannon’s two late uncles were members of the forerunner of the Coast Guard, the CLSS (Coast Life Saving Service) established in 1937.