#marinegallantry – Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Paschal Donohoe, TD, hosted the National Marine Gallantry and Meritorious Service Awards 2014 yesterday evening (Thursday) at Farmleigh House, Phoenix Park, Dublin.
The Awards recognise outstanding acts of heroism, courage, skill and initiative in the context of marine emergency incidents within the Irish State and/or in relation to Irish-registered vessels anywhere in the world. Recognition is also given to exceptional dedication to duty in the execution of Ireland's marine emergency response. This is the first time since 2008 that awards, which are given in the form of medals and/or letters of appreciation, have been made. The National Marine Gallantry and Meritorious Service Committee, which is appointed by the Minister and operates on a voluntary basis, is responsible for adjudicating upon all recommendations for the granting of awards.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Donohoe paid tribute to the award recipients, saying: 'This evening, we honour the brave deeds and service of many ordinary, yet extraordinary, men and women who have faced crises and dug deep, offering their skills in order that others might be safe on our coastline, rivers mountains and cliffs'.
Attendees heard of the recipients' courage and bravery, often in harrowing circumstances, to which they responded unselfishly. A number of Awards were also presented to the women and men of the volunteer Coast Guard service, whom the Minister praised for their professionalism in providing a top-class marine emergency response.
"It is striking to note the range of persons, from all walks of life, and based all around Ireland, who were being presented with Awards this year. Among award recipients are brave teenagers, a musician, Coast Guard volunteers, and a farmer, who endeavoured to assist young children, holidaymakers, a photographer, hikers, cockle-pickers, and a fishing crew in distress."
The Minister also highlighted that while people in Ireland are fortunate to enjoy a range of natural resources, for work or leisure purposes, and mainly do so safely, it was necessary for people to take personal responsibility for their own safety at sea.
"As Minister, I am keen to reduce the number of incidents which occur and to ensure that people take personal responsibility for their own safety in a maritime context. To that end, the Irish Maritime Administration within my Department is preparing a new Maritime Safety Strategy which will focus on reducing the number of deaths and injuries in the recreational craft, fishing, passenger and cargo vessel sectors. The development of the new Strategy is being informed by a range of perspectives on foot of public and stakeholder consultation processes which have been ongoing over the past few months. The underlying aim is to build a new maritime safety culture generally, which is not an easy task. However the new Strategy will be an important first step in the right direction and will be built upon as the years progress. I plan to publish the new Strategy early next year."
Finally, the Minister paused to remember those who had lost their lives during the incidents for which Awards were being presented, saying that tragedies cannot always be averted, yet the memories of those who once walked amongst us remain.
2014 Award Recipients:
Mr Tony McNamara and Mr. Patrick McNamara - Marine Ministerial Letters of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
For quick decision-making and acting with skill, courage and initiative where time was of the essence in saving a man's life in Dooagh Bay, Achill, in August 2012.
Ballyglass Coast Guard Unit, and Mr. Oliver O'Boyle – Marine Ministerial Letters of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
For their ability to locate and transfer an individual from a mountain on the Bangor Erris Trail in very poor weather conditions and having spent most of the night in exposed conditions in order to save a man's life, in October 2013.
Achill Coast Guard Unit – Marine Meritorious Service Medal
For their courage, tenacity, initiative and professionalism to save a man's life in dangerous conditions of darkness, rough terrain, poor weather and an extended period of being exposed to such a difficult mission in Achill, in November 2009.
Mr Ben Graham, Mr David Grant and Mr. Alexander May - Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
For quick actions and selflessness in assisting at Balbriggan Harbour to save a teenager's life, and also managing to return the individual to safety in such conditions, in June 2013.
Mr Alistair Jones - Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
For bravery and the use of skills acquired in his training as Emergency Medical Technician and Irish Coast Guard member in a risk-to-life situation involving a young child at Seapoint, Co. Dublin, in July 2011.
Drogheda Coast Guard Unit - Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
For their rapid response in a life and death situation in darkness and fast-flowing water at the River Boyne, where all their skills and experience were put to the ultimate use in saving a woman's life and assisting a fellow rescuer, in January 2014.
Mr Michael O'Regan and the crew of the Goleen Coast Guard Unit - Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
For outstanding dedication and professionalism in deploying the Unit's search teams to assist in a tragic incident at Ballydehob in March 2013, and an ability to liaise with other agencies in a manner which demonstrated considerable skill and judgment in an emotional, tension-filled scenario of prolonged duration.
Toe Head Glandore Coast Guard Unit – Michael Heffernan Silver Medal for Marine Gallantry
For risking their lives in atrocious weather conditions in order to save a man's life following the sinking of the fishing vessel Tit Bonhomme, in January 2012.
The Union Hall Community – Marine Meritorious Service Medal
For extending to the search and rescue operation following the sinking of the Tit Bonhomme in January 2012 the most dedicated and heartfelt care and hospitality which was far above and beyond the call of duty for any voluntary community-based effort.
Mr Bill Deasy - Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
For his dedication, professionalism, compassion, humanity and selflessness in providing every conceivable assistance, including his invaluable local knowledge to the search and rescue operation following the sinking of the Tit Bonhomme in January 2012 and on many other such occasions in that area.
Mr Jim Griffin – Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
For acting on his initiative in realising that he was the nearest trained asset to assist with rescuing 7 people at Tramore Bay in August 2013 who were cut-off by the tide.
Mr Damien Dempsey – Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
For his quick thinking in saving the life of a man from the River Slaney at Enniscorthy in June 2014 and also risking himself which was an example of his bravery.
Mulroy Coast Guard Unit – Michael Heffernan Bronze Medal for Marine Gallantry
For showing bravery and tenacity in mountainous seas and at huge peril to their own safety to risk life, in an effort to save the life of a casualty at Fanad Lighthouse in August 2014.
Killybegs Coast Guard Unit – Michael Heffernan Bronze Medal for Marine Gallantry
For displaying skill, bravery and courage in effecting a rescue and saving the life of a man who had fallen down a cliff at Slieve League in January 2013, in very difficult conditions and for a lengthy period of endurance, which highlighted their skill sets and strength of character.
Members of the National Marine Gallantry and Meritorious Service Awards Committee:
Mr Bryan Dobson
RTE Newscaster (Chair)
Mr. Maurice Mullen
Assistant Secretary (Deputy Chair),
Ms. Chris Reynolds
Director IRCG, DTTAS
Mr Brian Hogan
Chief Surveyor, MSO, DTTAS
Mr. Harry Hermon
Irish Sailing Association
Ms. Breda Collins
Irish Water Safety
Capt. Brian Sheridan
Irish Harbour Masters Association
Mr. Michael Keatinge
Bord Iascaigh Mhara
Dr. Marion Broderick
HSE Doctor Inis Mór and RNLI