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Displaying items by tag: Caitriona Lucas

Following January’s film on Ireland’s offshore fishing industry, the latest episode of TG4 documentary series Tabú reaches into the heart and soul of the Irish Coast Guard — as told by the coastguard members in their own words.

In the aftermath of the loss of Rescue 116 and volunteer Caitríona Lucas, An Garda Cósta - Ár n-Insint Féin, which screens this coming Wednesday 4 March, explores how they continue to serve in spite of the tragedies.

Focusing on operations after the biggest tragedy that has happened to any Blue Light service in Ireland, the hour-long film reveals the anguish of the search, along with the coping mechanisms of “the coastguard family”.

And according to the producers, the documentary also reveals the dangers of the job and how they stay on the right side of risk.

Produced and directed by Darina Clancy for Midas Productions, Tabú: An Garda Cósta - Ár n-Insint Féin broadcasts Wednesday 4 March at 9.30pm on TG4.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - Two new postage stamps in tribute to the Irish Coast Guard are based on a painting by a volunteer who died in service, as the Sunday Independent reports.

The painting by Caitríona Lucas, who died during a rescue operation off Kilkee in September 2016, has been adapted into a tribute to both her and the crew of the coastguard helicopter Rescue 116 who were lost in March 2017.

Two stamps show separately a rendering of the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter, and an Irish Coast Guard rescue boat similar to what Caitríona had crewed.

The commemorative stamps were launched at the GPO last week by members of the coastguard and Caitríona’s widower Bernard.

In a joint statement, coastguard units in Skerries, Dun Laighaire and Greystones said their thoughts are with the families of Caitríona, Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciaran Smith.

“This gesture by An Post is heartwarming to us all,” they added.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - There was no evidence of effective management at Kilkee’s coastguard station when volunteer Caitríona Lucas died during a rescue operation almost two years ago, according to a draft report into the incident.

The Irish Times has details of the draft report from the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB), which adds that the RIB on which Lucas was travelling before it capsized on 12 September 2016 was being used outside of the Irish Coast Guard’s own operational limits.

Parallels were also drawn to a similar incident two years prior involving a coastguard RIB in a “surf zone” near Dingle, which prompted a series of recommendation that were not “fully implemented” by the Irish Coast Guard, according to the MCIB.

The Irish Times has much more on the story, while Lorna Siggins also writes on how Lucas’ death occurred amid a tumultuous time for the Co Clare coastguard unit.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - Next year’s commemorative stamp programme from An Post will feature a tribute to the four coastguard crew lost in the Rescue 116 tragedy one year ago.

RTÉ News reports that Caitriona Lucas, the coastguard volunteer who died during a rescue mission in September 2016, will be included as part of a series paying tribute to the work of the Irish Coast Guard.

Among other stamps due in 2019 will be one to mark 100 years since the first non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Galway by British aviators Alcock and Brown.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - Irish Coast Guard management faced a protest march at the weekend over Kilkee’s lack of a full rescue service — and one restricted further since the death last year of coastguard volunteer Caitriona Lucas, as The Irish Times reports.

Locals were demonstrating for the second time this month over what former mayor Manuel di Lucia said was an issue that dated back to when the Irish Coast Guard took over the Co Clare’s town’s community lifeboat in 2013.

The paper’s sources allege inconsistent management and a lack of training and qualified crew compounded the situation that led to the death of Lucas, when the RIB she was travelling in capsized during a search operation. Her bravery at sea was recognised with a posthumous award of the State's highest honour earlier this month.

The Irish Times has much more on the protest, which came on the same weekend that Lucas and the lost crew of Rescue 116 were remembered at a memorial service for those who died in the Cleggan Bay Disaster in 1927.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - The late Irish Coast Guard volunteer Caitriona Lucas has been recognised in this year’s National Bravery Awards.

The Posthumous Gold Medal and Certificate of Bravery were presented to Lucas’ family at Farmleigh House yesterday (Friday 20 October) a year after she died during a search operation in Kilkee when her RIB capsized.

“Catriona’s courage and selfless action on that day says everything about her — her strength of character and spirit and willingness to help others,” said Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó’ Fearghaíl, who presented the awards to 15 recipients.

“It is also a reminder of how committed and brave members of our emergency services put their lives on the line on a daily basis to help and protect their communities.

“Caitriona’s family accepted a Gold Medal for Bravery in recognition of her courage, which is the highest award possible.”

Others recognised at the ceremony yesterday include Darren McMahon, who was awarded a Certificate of Bravery for his attempt to rescue his brother from a kayak trapped in a weir gate in Ennis.

Bronze Medals and Certificates of Bravery also went to scouts Sean Baitson, Kyle Corrigan, Cory Ridge Grenelle and Philip Byrne for their attempts to rescue 14-year-old Aoife Winterlich, who died after being swept into the sea during an outing at Hook Head Lighthouse in December 2015.

Byrne in particular was noted for his efforts to keep Winterlich afloat in the rough waters before help arrived.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - Irish Coast Guard director Chris Reynolds has paid tribute to the lives lost in the Rescue 116 and Kilkee tragedies ahead of his return from secondment in Somalia.

“The Coast Guard has lost five colleagues to accident and one, Daithi O’Cearbhallain, to cancer. I’ve lost six good friends,” said Reynolds, according to The Irish Sun.

“Not being at home and with my team in the Coast Guard has been very, very difficult,” he added.

“My first intention on my return in October is to visit our volunteer teams, co-ordination centres and helicopter bases to listen and understand how we will move forward.”

Reynolds was seconded to Somalia in July 2016 as part of an EU maritime security mission in the Horn of Africa.

Two months after his departure, coastguard volunteer Caitriona Lucas died during a search operation in Kilkee when her RIB capsized.

Six months later, Rescue 116 crashed at Black Rock in Co Mayo, claiming the lives of its four crew. Capt Dara Fitzpatrick and Capt Mark Duffy were recovered, but the bodies of winch men Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith were not found.

Published in Coastguard

#MCIB - An official investigation into the death of coastguard volunteer Caitriona Lucas remains ongoing, as the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) confirms.

Lucas, a volunteer for the Irish Coast Guard’s Doolin unit, died on 12 September 2016 during a search operation for a missing person in Kilkee, when the RIB in which she and two other volunteers were travelling capsized in a heavy swell.

The MCIB’s interim report outlines the details of the day in question. Investigators’ analysis, conclusions and recommendations will be reserved for the final report.

Published in MCIB

#RNLI - A special wreath will be laid to commemorate the loss of Irish Coast Guard volunteer Caitríona Lucas during Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s annual Christmas Eve ceremony to remember all those who lost their lives at sea in the past year.

The annual commemoration marks the anniversary of the 15 volunteer lifeboat crew members from Dun Laoghaire RNLI who died during a rescue on Christmas Eve in 1895.

The short ceremony is held at the lighthouse at the end of the East Pier in Dun Laoghaire at midday on Christmas Eve. The service includes music, an ecumenical blessing, a reading of a newspaper account printed at the time of the 1895 tragedy, and concludes with a guard of honour for the wreath-bearers as they proceed to sea on the lifeboats to lay the tributes.

The ceremony will last about 20 minutes with upwards of 200 people, including families, expected to walk the pier to join the ceremony at noon.

In previous years, two wreaths have been laid at sea but this year a third will be added in memory of Caitríona Lucas of the Irish Coast Guard unit at Doolin, who died during a search operation on 12 September this year.

A guard of honour will be provided by the Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard Unit and Civil Defence volunteers, while the Dun Laoghaire RNLI lifeboats will carry the wreaths to sea a short distance from the pier.

“This is an especially poignant time of year for many people who have lost loved ones at sea but 2016 will be particularly remembered by all of us involved in rescue services around Ireland,” said Stephen Wynne, lifeboat operations manager with Dun Laoghaire RNLI.

“Caitríona symbolises the commitment we all share for helping others in need; she will not be forgotten.”

Local musician William Byrne will perform a ballad marking the 1895 tragedy, while journalist Fergal Keane will read a newspaper account from that era followed by an ecumenical blessing.

Dublin Fire Brigade piper Paul McNally will play a lament at the East Pier saluting station at the end of the ceremony that has been kindly facilitated by the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company.

One of the attendees will be Cormac Becton, great grandson of Edward Murphy, a volunteer lifeboat man who lost his life during the rescue of the Palme in 1895.

“For many years as a young child Christmas Eve meant the nativity until I heard the story of my great Grandfather,” said Becton. “Now when I hear winter gales I think of him and the brave lifeboat crew as they rowed out of the harbour.

“The site of the ceremony on Christmas Eve is so close to where they died it isn't hard to imagine the scene and the challenge they faced.’

Due to forecasts of strong winds at the weekend, contingency plans are in place to ensure the ceremony proceeds safely. This may mean the ceremony will be moved closer to the lifeboat station. Attendees will be advised with stewards in place.

#Kilkee - BreakingNews.ie reports that a body was recovered yesterday (Saturday 24 September) off Kilkee in the search for missing teacher David McMahon.

Hundreds had been involved in the search for the school teacher, who was last seen on 9 September, according to Independent.ie.

The discovery yesterday afternoon came 12 days after the death of Irish Coast Guard volunteer Caitriona Lucas in the same area.

That tragedy occurred when the RIB she and two other coastguard volunteers were on board was flipped over in a heavy swell, three days into the search operation for McMahon off the Co Clare coast.

Published in News Update

The Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's fourth 'Blue Light' service (along with An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service). It provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is to promote safety and security standards, and by doing so, prevent as far as possible, the loss of life at sea, and on inland waters, mountains and caves, and to provide effective emergency response services and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The Irish Coast Guard has responsibility for Ireland's system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways.

It is responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue and counter-pollution and ship casualty operations. It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Operations in respect of maritime security, illegal drug trafficking, illegal migration and fisheries enforcement are co-ordinated by other bodies within the Irish Government.

On average, each year, the Irish Coast Guard is expected to:

  • handle 3,000 marine emergencies
  • assist 4,500 people and save about 200 lives
  • task Coast Guard helicopters on missions

The Coast Guard has been around in some form in Ireland since 1908.

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard has contracted five medium-lift Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters deployed at bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo.

The helicopters are designated wheels up from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night. One aircraft is fitted and its crew trained for under slung cargo operations up to 3000kgs and is available on short notice based at Waterford.

These aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains of Ireland (32 counties).

They can also be used for assistance in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and aerial surveillance during daylight hours, lifting and passenger operations and other operations as authorised by the Coast Guard within appropriate regulations.

Irish Coastguard FAQs

The Irish Coast Guard provides nationwide maritime emergency response, while also promoting safety and security standards. It aims to prevent the loss of life at sea, on inland waters, on mountains and in caves; and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The main role of the Irish Coast Guard is to rescue people from danger at sea or on land, to organise immediate medical transport and to assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction. It has three marine rescue centres in Dublin, Malin Head, Co Donegal, and Valentia Island, Co Kerry. The Dublin National Maritime Operations centre provides marine search and rescue responses and coordinates the response to marine casualty incidents with the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Yes, effectively, it is the fourth "blue light" service. The Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for the coastal area between Ballycotton, Co Cork and Clifden, Co Galway. At the same time, the MRSC Malin Head covers the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle. Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Dublin covers Carlingford Lough, Co Louth to Ballycotton, Co Cork. Each MRCC/MRSC also broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and MF radio, including navigational and gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings.

The Irish Coast Guard handles about 3,000 marine emergencies annually, and assists 4,500 people - saving an estimated 200 lives, according to the Department of Transport. In 2016, Irish Coast Guard helicopters completed 1,000 missions in a single year for the first time.

Yes, Irish Coast Guard helicopters evacuate medical patients from offshore islands to hospital on average about 100 times a year. In September 2017, the Department of Health announced that search and rescue pilots who work 24-hour duties would not be expected to perform any inter-hospital patient transfers. The Air Corps flies the Emergency Aeromedical Service, established in 2012 and using an AW139 twin-engine helicopter. Known by its call sign "Air Corps 112", it airlifted its 3,000th patient in autumn 2020.

The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is responsible for the Northern Irish coast.

The Irish Coast Guard is a State-funded service, with both paid management personnel and volunteers, and is under the auspices of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It is allocated approximately 74 million euro annually in funding, some 85 per cent of which pays for a helicopter contract that costs 60 million euro annually. The overall funding figure is "variable", an Oireachtas committee was told in 2019. Other significant expenditure items include volunteer training exercises, equipment, maintenance, renewal, and information technology.

The Irish Coast Guard has four search and rescue helicopter bases at Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo, run on a contract worth 50 million euro annually with an additional 10 million euro in costs by CHC Ireland. It provides five medium-lift Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and trained crew. The 44 Irish Coast Guard coastal units with 1,000 volunteers are classed as onshore search units, with 23 of the 44 units having rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and 17 units having cliff rescue capability. The Irish Coast Guard has 60 buildings in total around the coast, and units have search vehicles fitted with blue lights, all-terrain vehicles or quads, first aid equipment, generators and area lighting, search equipment, marine radios, pyrotechnics and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Community Rescue Boats Ireland also provide lifeboats and crews to assist in search and rescue. The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the Garda Siochána, National Ambulance Service, Naval Service and Air Corps, Civil Defence, while fishing vessels, ships and other craft at sea offer assistance in search operations.

The helicopters are designated as airborne from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours, and 45 minutes at night. The aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains and cover the 32 counties. They can also assist in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and can transport offshore firefighters and ambulance teams. The Irish Coast Guard volunteers units are expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time of departing from the station house in ten minutes from notification during daylight and 20 minutes at night. They are also expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time to the scene of the incident in less than 60 minutes from notification by day and 75 minutes at night, subject to geographical limitations.

Units are managed by an officer-in-charge (three stripes on the uniform) and a deputy officer in charge (two stripes). Each team is trained in search skills, first aid, setting up helicopter landing sites and a range of maritime skills, while certain units are also trained in cliff rescue.

Volunteers receive an allowance for time spent on exercises and call-outs. What is the difference between the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI? The RNLI is a registered charity which has been saving lives at sea since 1824, and runs a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service around the British and Irish coasts. It is a declared asset of the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and the Irish Coast Guard. Community Rescue Boats Ireland is a community rescue network of volunteers under the auspices of Water Safety Ireland.

No, it does not charge for rescue and nor do the RNLI or Community Rescue Boats Ireland.

The marine rescue centres maintain 19 VHF voice and DSC radio sites around the Irish coastline and a digital paging system. There are two VHF repeater test sites, four MF radio sites and two NAVTEX transmitter sites. Does Ireland have a national search and rescue plan? The first national search and rescue plan was published in July, 2019. It establishes the national framework for the overall development, deployment and improvement of search and rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue Region and to meet domestic and international commitments. The purpose of the national search and rescue plan is to promote a planned and nationally coordinated search and rescue response to persons in distress at sea, in the air or on land.

Yes, the Irish Coast Guard is responsible for responding to spills of oil and other hazardous substances with the Irish pollution responsibility zone, along with providing an effective response to marine casualties and monitoring or intervening in marine salvage operations. It provides and maintains a 24-hour marine pollution notification at the three marine rescue centres. It coordinates exercises and tests of national and local pollution response plans.

The first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die on duty was Caitriona Lucas, a highly trained member of the Doolin Coast Guard unit, while assisting in a search for a missing man by the Kilkee unit in September 2016. Six months later, four Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew – Dara Fitzpatrick, Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith -died when their Sikorsky S-92 struck Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14, 2017. The Dublin-based Rescue 116 crew were providing "top cover" or communications for a medical emergency off the west coast and had been approaching Blacksod to refuel. Up until the five fatalities, the Irish Coast Guard recorded that more than a million "man hours" had been spent on more than 30,000 rescue missions since 1991.

Several investigations were initiated into each incident. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board was critical of the Irish Coast Guard in its final report into the death of Caitriona Lucas, while a separate Health and Safety Authority investigation has been completed, but not published. The Air Accident Investigation Unit final report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has not yet been published.

The Irish Coast Guard in its present form dates back to 1991, when the Irish Marine Emergency Service was formed after a campaign initiated by Dr Joan McGinley to improve air/sea rescue services on the west Irish coast. Before Irish independence, the British Admiralty was responsible for a Coast Guard (formerly the Water Guard or Preventative Boat Service) dating back to 1809. The West Coast Search and Rescue Action Committee was initiated with a public meeting in Killybegs, Co Donegal, in 1988 and the group was so effective that a Government report was commissioned, which recommended setting up a new division of the Department of the Marine to run the Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC), then based at Shannon, along with the existing coast radio service, and coast and cliff rescue. A medium-range helicopter base was established at Shannon within two years. Initially, the base was served by the Air Corps.

The first director of what was then IMES was Capt Liam Kirwan, who had spent 20 years at sea and latterly worked with the Marine Survey Office. Capt Kirwan transformed a poorly funded voluntary coast and cliff rescue service into a trained network of cliff and sea rescue units – largely voluntary, but with paid management. The MRCC was relocated from Shannon to an IMES headquarters at the then Department of the Marine (now Department of Transport) in Leeson Lane, Dublin. The coast radio stations at Valentia, Co Kerry, and Malin Head, Co Donegal, became marine rescue-sub-centres.

The current director is Chris Reynolds, who has been in place since August 2007 and was formerly with the Naval Service. He has been seconded to the head of mission with the EUCAP Somalia - which has a mandate to enhance Somalia's maritime civilian law enforcement capacity – since January 2019.

  • Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford
  • Arklow, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
  • Ballycotton, Co. Cork
  • Ballyglass, Co. Mayo
  • Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
  • Bunbeg, Co. Donegal
  • Carnsore, Co. Wexford
  • Castlefreake, Co. Cork
  • Castletownbere, Co. Cork
  • Cleggan, Co. Galway
  • Clogherhead, Co. Louth
  • Costelloe Bay, Co. Galway
  • Courtown, Co. Wexford
  • Crosshaven, Co. Cork
  • Curracloe, Co. Wexford
  • Dingle, Co. Kerry
  • Doolin, Co. Clare
  • Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
  • Fethard, Co. Wexford
  • Glandore, Co. Cork
  • Glenderry, Co. Kerry
  • Goleen, Co. Cork
  • Greencastle, Co. Donegal
  • Greenore, Co. Louth
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Guileen, Co. Cork
  • Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Kilkee, Co. Clare
  • Killala, Co. Mayo
  • Killybegs, Co. Donegal
  • Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
  • Knightstown, Co. Kerry
  • Mulroy, Co. Donegal
  • North Aran, Co. Galway
  • Old Head Of Kinsale, Co. Cork
  • Oysterhaven, Co. Cork
  • Rosslare, Co. Wexford
  • Seven Heads, Co. Cork
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin Summercove, Co. Cork
  • Toe Head, Co. Cork
  • Tory Island, Co. Donegal
  • Tramore, Co. Waterford
  • Waterville, Co. Kerry
  • Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Wicklow
  • Youghal, Co. Cork

Sources: Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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