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Hildegarde Naughton TD, Minister with special responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard has today joined volunteers in Ardmore to mark the reopening of the Coast Guard station. The Ardmore Coast Guard Unit has a long history in the provision of search and rescue and can trace its origins back to the 1890s.

The Ardmore unit today a drone capability as well as the search function and works closely with its flank stations – Bonmahon and Youghal. This is important due to the varying coastline in the area which includes beaches, rock shores and cliffs. Cliff rescue cover is also provided in the area with the Bonmahon unit equipped for cliff rescue. Their area of operations extends from Dungarvan to the east and extends west over towards Youghal. The team comprises 17 dedicated volunteers delivering the Coast Guard service in their community.

After extensive refurbishment work, the Minister’s visit marks the reopening of the Coast Guard building at Ardmore. The refurbishment work was completed by the Office of Public Works on behalf of the Irish Coast Guard and included window replacement, painting, flooring and external improvements to the yard. Work was also carried out on the original ‘rocket’ house for use in storage and training.

Minister Naughton’s visits coincide with the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Irish Coast Guard this year. The Irish Coast Guard, which can trace its roots to 1822 includes 44 Coast Guard units across Ireland provide a national maritime search and rescue service and a maritime casualty and pollution response service. Volunteers and full-time staff respond to almost 3,000 call outs and save on average 400 lives a year.

Speaking from Ardmore, Minister Naughton said “The Irish Coast Guard is one of the State’s Principal Emergency Services and their work is both challenging and varied. I would like to acknowledge the commitment of staff and volunteers here in Ardmore, across the county of Waterford, and nationwide, for providing this crucial service and particularly for maintaining service delivery throughout the Covid pandemic. I continue to hear stories of volunteers leaving their families at home in the dead of night, and even on Christmas Day, to assist those in difficulty; a fact that demonstrates the personal sacrifice that is made by our volunteers 365 days of the year. Without our volunteers we simply would not have this lifesaving service. I would also like to thank their families and the wider community without whose support this service could not be provided.”

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Minister with special responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard Hildegarde Naughton TD, today visited Doolin Coast Guard Unit in County Clare to meet with the local volunteer team and hear first-hand about their life saving work.

Doolin Coast Guard Unit consists of 7 volunteers and 8 more in Inis Óirr. The Unit carries out search, boat and drone roles. In 2021, a total of 41 incident taskings were responded to, and a further 49 so far in 2022. Following the recent appointments of Officer in Charge and Deputy Officer in Charge the unit continues to work on its core competencies. The skills and dedication of the volunteers who staff the Doolin Coast Guard unit have proven extremely important in the delivery of the Irish Coast Guard mission statement – both locally within their community and in support of the national service. Further expansion of the unit will be undertaken to continue to provide an effective maritime search and rescue service in County Clare.

Minister Naughton’s visits coincide with the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Irish Coast Guard this year. The Irish Coast Guard, which can trace its roots to 1822 includes 44 Coast Guard units across Ireland provide a national maritime search and rescue service and a maritime casualty and pollution response service. Volunteers and full-time staff respond to almost 3,000 call outs and save on average 400 lives a year.

Speaking from Doolin, Minister Naughton said “The Irish Coast Guard is one of the State’s Principal Emergency Services and their work is both challenging and varied. I would like to acknowledge the commitment of staff and volunteers here in Clare, and nationwide, for providing this crucial service and particularly for maintaining service delivery throughout the Covid pandemic. I continue to hear stories of volunteers leaving their families at home in the dead of night, and even on Christmas Day, to assist those in difficulty; a fact that demonstrates the personal sacrifice that is made by our volunteers 365 days of the year. Without our volunteers we simply would not have this lifesaving service. I would also like to thank their families and the wider community without whose support this service could not be provided.”

The Irish Coast Guard is one of the State’s Principal Emergency Services and their work is both challenging and varied. I would like to acknowledge the commitment of staff and volunteers in Galway, and nationwide, for providing this crucial service and particularly for maintaining service delivery throughout the Covid pandemic. I continue to hear stories of volunteers leaving their families at home at the dead of night, or on Christmas Day, to assist a person in difficulty; a fact that demonstrates the personal sacrifice that is made by our volunteers 365 days of the year. Without our volunteers we simply would not have this lifesaving service.”

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Crosshaven Coastguard has installed a new drive-up pontoon for its RIB rescue boat in Cork Harbour

The floating pontoon, that has been installed at the Royal Cork Yacht Club marina gives the local Coastguard unit a much safer and quicker response time.

The Coastguard says on social media that the pontoon will save launch time and the dangers of crossing a busy main road because 'the boat is already on the water but not in the water!" 

Crosshaven Coastguard's new new drive-up pontoon berth for its rescue RIBCrosshaven Coastguard's new new drive-up pontoon berth for its rescue RIB Photo: Bob Bateman

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Galway based Minister with special responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard, Hildegarde Naughton TD, today visited Cleggan Coast Guard Unit to meet with the local volunteer team and hear first-hand about their life saving work.

Cleggan is a shore-based Coast Guard Unit with 17 volunteers and has dual functions with shore search and drone roles. The team at Cleggan was the first in the country to be trained and equipped with drone capabilities. Work continues within the team to keep on top of advancing drone technologies. The Cleggan Unit has also led the way for Units nationwide to respond to a wide range of challenging and life-threatening incidents, including searches for missing persons with the use of drones.

Minister Naughton’s visit coincides with the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Irish Coast Guard this year. The Irish Coast Guard, which can trace its roots back to 1822, includes 44 Coast Guard units across Ireland that provide a national maritime search and rescue service and a maritime casualty and pollution response service. Volunteers and full-time staff respond to almost 3,000 callouts and save on average, 400 lives a year.

Minister Naughton commented on this important milestone: “I had the pleasure of presenting the 30-year Long Service Medal to Michael Murray, the Officer in Charge at Cleggan, in September at the celebration event of the 200th anniversary of the Coast Guard. Michael’s exemplary service is an example of the dedication and commitment of all in our Coast Guard to protect people along our coastline and inland waters.

“The Irish Coast Guard is one of the State’s Principal Emergency Services, and their work is both challenging and varied. I would like to acknowledge the commitment of staff and volunteers here in Galway, and nationwide for providing this crucial service and particularly for maintaining service delivery throughout the Covid pandemic. I continue to hear stories of volunteers leaving their families at home in the dead of night, and even on Christmas Day, to assist those in difficulty, a fact that demonstrates the personal sacrifice that is made by our volunteers 365 days of the year. Without our volunteers, we simply would not have this lifesaving service. I would also like to thank their families and the wider community, without whose support this service could not be provided."

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Two junior ministers have turned a sod on the construction site of a new Coast Guard station at Bunmahon, Co Waterford.

A sum of 5.3 million euro is being invested in the new station, according to Minister of State with responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard Hildegarde Naughton.

She was joined by Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), Patrick O’Donovan.

It will take about a year to complete.

The new station will provide better facilities for the 18 volunteers who operate from the Bunmahon unit, including vehicle storage, shower and changing facilities, an operations/training room, kitchen and office space.The new station will provide better facilities for the 18 volunteers who operate from the Bunmahon unit, including vehicle storage, shower and changing facilities, an operations/training room, kitchen and office space

Ms Naughton paid tribute to the commitment and dedication of almost 1,000 volunteers with the Coast Guard, which she described second to none.

She also paid tribute to the members of the Bunmahon unit and said it was a key resource for the Irish Coast Guard in the Waterford area.

“The unit has shoreline and cliff rescue capabilities and works closely with its flank units at Ardmore and Tramore,” she said.

Minister Naughton said the Bunmahon unit and said it was a key resource for the Irish Coast Guard in the Waterford areaMinister Naughton said the Bunmahon unit and said it was a key resource for the Irish Coast Guard in the Waterford area

“The Waterford team here has responded to many search and cliff rescue emergencies down through the years, both maritime and inland, in rural communities and in the larger townlands of Tramore and Dungarvan,”she said, noting the unit had also assisted the Garda Siochana, National Ambulance Service and Fire Service.

“The OPW is delighted to assist in the design and construction of this new purpose-built premises in Bunmahon for the Irish Coast Guard Service,” Mr O’Donovan said.

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The Irish Coast Guard Maritime Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) at Malin Head has reported the safe rescue of the trapped man from the cave at Downpatrick Head Co Mayo.

The man has been transferred to Sligo University Hospital by the Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue 118 from Sligo and is said to be well and in good spirits.

As Afloat reported earlier, a multi-agency rescue operation had been awaiting low tide this afternoon (Sunday 18 September) to retrieve the man trapped in a sea cave at Downpatrick Head since the previous evening.

Rescuers work to retrieve a man trapped in a cave at Downpatrick in County MayoRescuers work to retrieve a man trapped in a cave at Downpatrick in County Mayo

According to The Irish Times, the man in his 40s had been exploring the cave with a woman on Saturday (17 September) when they became trapped by the rising tide and were swept off a ledge by a wave surge.

The Irish Cave Rescue Organisation rescued the individual, supported by the Coast Guard Units from Killala/Ballyglass/Killybegs/Achill, the Ballyglass RNLI Lifeboat, National Ambulance Service, Civil Defence, County Fire Service and An Gardai Siochana, including the Gardai Water Unit. With a particular mention of the support of the local community at Downpatrick and North Mayo more generally.

The individual has been transferred to Sligo University Hospital by the Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue 118 from Sligo and is said to be well and in good spirits.The individual has been transferred to Sligo University Hospital by the Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue 118 from Sligo and is said to be well and in good spirits

In a statement, the Coast Guard said tonight it would like to take this opportunity to recognise the professionalism and dedication of those involved in the successful operation and in particular, the team from the Irish Cave Rescue Organisation.

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The Irish Coast Guard, which can trace its roots to 1822, is celebrating 200 years of lifesaving service. The milestone was marked at an event today attended by Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD and Minister of State with specific responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard, Hildegarde Naughton TD, at Greenore Coast Guard Station, County Louth. A special Commemorative Proof of Service Wreck Token will be awarded to 950 volunteers nationwide in recognition of their valued service.

Staff and volunteers from 44 Coast Guard units across Ireland provide a national maritime search and rescue service and a maritime casualty and pollution response service. Together, they respond to almost 3,000 call outs and save on average 400 lives a year. Of the call outs, approximately half are maritime incidents, a quarter are inland search and rescue and another quarter involve assisting the National Ambulance Service.

Today the Irish Coast Guard uses state of the art technology to support its work. However, over the decades, its volunteers have had to rely on horse drawn carriages to carry equipment, climbing cliffs on ladders and line-firing rockets to reach grounded vessels, for example, in their rescue efforts. The 200th anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the legacy and rich history of this crucial rescue service.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD and Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton with specific responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard in Carlingford as they mark 200 years of the Lifesaving service with a Coastguard Helicopter flypastMinister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD and Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton with specific responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard as they mark 200 years of the Lifesaving service with a Coastguard Helicopter flypast at at Greenore Coast Guard Station on Carlingford Lough

Modern volunteer Coast Guard units provide a combination of Rescue Boat, Cliff Rescue, Shoreline Search Capabilities, and Emergency Community Support in conjunction with the other emergency services. Development in the use of Small Unmanned Aircraft systems (Drones) provide Coast Guard units with an enhanced search capability while Coast Guard helicopters provide 24/7 services out of four bases (Dublin, Waterford, Shannon, Sligo).

Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD said: “The Irish Coast Guard Service has always been, and remains, a critical part of Ireland’s emergency response system. Last year, the Coast Guard reported a 12% increase in the overall number of incidents coordinated during 2021. Hardly a day goes by without hearing of the extraordinary work carried out bravely and selflessly by its staff and volunteers. Whether it’s the rescue of someone from the sea, a cliff or mountain rescue, the provision of maritime safety broadcasts, ship casualty operations or the investigation of pollution reports, they provide a 24/7 service for, and on behalf of, the Irish people.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD as he meets with Kevin Doherty along with members of the Greenore Coast Guard Station, County Louth from left Owen Connolly , Denise Fegan and Eddie Marmion as they mark 200 years of the Lifesaving serviceMinister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD as he meets with Kevin Doherty along with members of the Greenore Coast Guard Station, County Louth from left Owen Connolly , Denise Fegan and Eddie Marmion as they mark 200 years of the Lifesaving service

I am delighted to mark this 200-year celebration and to reflect on its rich history by recognising the tireless work of Irish Coast Guard staff and volunteers - both those currently in duty and those who have served before them, and their families right across the country.”

Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton TD said: “The Irish Coast Guard is one of the State’s Principal Emergency Services and their work is both challenging and varied. I would like to acknowledge the commitment of staff and volunteers for providing this crucial service and particularly for maintaining service delivery throughout the Covid pandemic. This week I am continuing my visits to our coast guard units across the country. The dedication and commitment towards protecting people along our coastline and inland waters is palpable to say the least. I continue to hear stories of volunteers leaving their families at home at the dead of night, or on Christmas Day, to assist a person in difficulty; a fact that demonstrates the personal sacrifice that is made by our volunteers 365 days of the year. Without our volunteers we simply would not have this lifesaving service.

I am also pleased to announce the publication earlier this week of the second annual report on the National Search and Rescue Plan, submitted by the National Search and Rescue (SAR) Committee. The Report shows a lot of evidence of inter-agency co-operation which is made possible by the close bonds forged locally between the services and inter-agency training and exercising.”

About the Irish Coast Guard

The Coast Guard’s role is to provide maritime search and rescue, maritime casualty, and pollution response service. The Coast Guard is a Division within the Irish Maritime Directorate (IMD) of the Department of Transport.

History of the Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast, which can trace its roots to 1822 after the passing of the Coast Guard Act in London. Initially, the Coast Guard took on revenue protection and coastal defence duties and acted as a reserve force for the Royal Navy. By 1860, there were approximately 200 Coast Guard stations around the country however, many of these were attacked and destroyed during the War of Independence and Civil War. After the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, the Coast Guard along with its 109 remaining stations were handed to the Irish Free State and remained as the Coast Life Saving Service (CLSS).

In 1990, the Irish Marine Emergency Service (IMES) was established and in February 2000, this became ‘Garda Costa na hÉireann’ or ‘Irish Coast Guard’ (IRCG).

Commemorative Proof of Service Wreck Token

The Commemorative Proof of Service wreck token is based on original Proof of Service wreck tokens which were issued to all Coast Guard stations since 1822. When the Coast Guard members or members of the public attended to a rescue, the Officer in Charge would give all who attended the rescue a Proof of Service wreck token. Anyone who was issued with a token would then hand it back to the Inspector when he next visited the Coast Guard station as proof of his/her attendance at a rescue. He/she would then be paid the appropriate amount in exchange for the token.

These Proof of Service wreck tokens were maintained at each Coast Guard station. Two types were cast over the 200-year period and while both had a clipper on one side, the British version (1822-1922) had the Crown on the other side while the Irish version (post 1922) had the harp. Very few of these original Proof of Service wreck tokens have survived however they are an important part of the 200-year history of our Coast Guard service on this island.

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The Mayo offshore island of Inishturk is to secure a new helipad for use by Irish Coast Guard air-sea rescue helicopters.

Funding of over €357,000 for the construction of the helipad has been approved by Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys.

She says the Department of Rural and Community Development investment will “provide a vital resource for the Irish Coastguard to access the island in an emergency”.

Inishturk lies in outer Clew Bay, some nine miles or about 15km off the Mayo coast between Inishbofin and Clare Island.

It has a population of between 51 and 60 people, and made international headlines in 2016 when it was reported to have offered a refuge to US citizens who did not vote for Donald Trump as president.

Former island development officer Mary Catherine Heanue subsequently said she never actually issued the appeal to north Americans, which was attributed to her in news reports, but said the response on social media did benefit the island’s tourism.

"We would never actually turn anyone away, not even Mr Trump," Ms Heanue, who runs Ocean View guesthouse with her husband Bill, said at the time.

The island has a mixed fishing and farming economy and daily ferry crossings from Roonagh, Co Mayo.

Ms Humphreys said the funding she had approved would cover up to 90% of the cost of the helipad project, with Mayo County Council providing the balance.

She announced an air service contract worth €4.9 million for the Aran islands and over €2 million in funding for road projects on the islands off Donegal.

“This helipad will be a vital resource to the Irish Coastguard, providing them with a safe place to land on the island itself,” she said.

“Making our islands more sustainable is a key priority of mine as minister,” she said.

“I have no doubt that this particular funding will come as welcome news for Inishturk, and I want to also commend the Irish Coast Guard for the vital work they do,”she said.

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Valentia Coast Guard Station is reported to have been offline for up to 12 hours on Sunday night last due to staffing issues. The Department of Transport says the responsibilities at the time were shared between Malin Head and Dublin centres and that this arrangement had been pre-planned due to staff availability issues.

The matter has been raised by Fianna Fail West Cork TD., Christopher O’Sullivan, who said that all Coast Guard stations should be fully staffed and he was seeking to have the matter looked into.

There are understood to be vacancies for Watch Officers at all three Coast Guard stations. Six are said to have been recruited and more will be advertised.

THE ECHO Cork has more on the story today here, reporting that there are understood to be vacancies for Watch Officers at all three Coast Guard stations. Six are said to have been recruited and more will be advertised.

It also reports that staff members at Valentia have been covering extra shifts because of the shortage of personnel.

THE ECHO Cork leads on the Valentia Coastguard staffing storyTHE ECHO Cork leads on the Valentia Coastguard staffing story

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Dun Laoghaire Harbour might see more of the R116 Coastguard Helicopter after this month's major inter-agency marine and coastal agency emergency services display at the Dublin Bay Port.

Held in the Ferry Marshalling Area of the Harbour on June 16th, the display was described as a 'non-public event'.

Arising out of the pow-wow, the County Dublin site has been highlighted as one with good connectivity and landing options for the coastguard helicopter.  This is especially the case concerning Ambulance transfer to nearby St. Vincent's Hospital at Elmpark in Dublin 4, according to one Afloat source.

The briefing dealt with emergency landing zones, evacuation procedures, Ambulance access points, Major incident facilities and Port Secure Zones. 

The operational briefing had static displays and equipment capabilities with the Irish Coast Guard's Dun Laoghaire Unit, RNLI Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat Station, Irish Coast Guard - Rescue Helicopter 116 and DLRCOCO staff from Dun Laoghaire Harbour and Dun Laoghaire Marina. 

An Incident Command Unit, Mobile units and equipment, an All-terrain vehicle, Dun Laoghaire's Trent class All-Weather lifeboat, D-Class Inshore lifeboat, and R116 were displayed.

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