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Displaying items by tag: Tokyo 2020

In an update from the Olympic Federation of Ireland, Rowing has qualified a record number of boats for the 2021 Olympics, with four boats heading to Tokyo, and still a good chance to get one or two more in the final qualification regatta before the Games.

The boats are:

Women’s Single Scull – Sanita Puspure finished first in the World Championships 2019

Men’s Lightweight Double Scull – Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy finished first in the World
Championships 2019

Men’s Double Scull – Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne finished second in the World Championships 2019

Women’s Pair – Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska finished eleventh in the World Championships 2019

Rowing Ireland are still targeting two boats in the European qualifying regatta next year:

Women’s Four (W4-) there are two spots available.

Women’s Lightweight Double (LW2X) there are two spots available

Published in Rowing
Tagged under

In the hunt for the last Olympic berth for Toyko next year, the Irish under-23 duo of Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove have, for a second time in a fortnight, beaten double Olympian Ryan Seaton sailing with Seafra Guilfoyle at an international regatta.

In their first Olympic campaign, the Howth and Skerries duo finished 18th overall at the European Championships on Lake Attersee in Austria this afternoon leaving the Belfast and Cork combination of Seaton and Guilfoyle ten places behind in 26th overall in the 55-boat fleet. 

At Kiel Week Regatta in northern Germany, on September 15th, the Dublin pairing finished 14th, some 13 places ahead of Seaton and Guilfoyle who had a silver fleet finish in 27th place in the 52-boat fleet. 

Seafra Guilfoyle (left) and Ryan Seaton finished 26th at the Lake Attersee 49er Europeans. Photo: Tobias StoerkleSeafra Guilfoyle (left) and Ryan Seaton finished 26th at the Lake Attersee 49er Europeans. Photo: Tobias Stoerkle

It's a satisfying result for the former U23 49er world champions as they seek Olympic qualification early next season but it is tempered by the fact that the other three nations chasing the final Tokyo place all finished ahead of them. Italy finished seventh, Belgium eighth and Sweden 17th and that is an urgent reminder to the Irish teams of the work that lies ahead if Ireland is to be on the Tokyo startline next July. 

A third Irish team competing, Sean Donnelly and Marcus O'Leary of Dun Laoghaire, placed 48th.

Fischer and Graf cling on to win 49er European Title

Tim Fischer and Fabian Graf have become European Champions in the 49er, despite a wobbly finish to their regatta. A bit like their German counterparts in the 49erFX, Fischer and Graf clocked up two useful scores earlier in the day with 3,2 but then faded in the final two heats with 13,11.

The Lake Attersee fleet line up for a 49er Euros start Photo: Tobias StoerkleThe Lake Attersee fleet line up for a 49er Euros start Photo: Tobias Stoerkle

In the final race, it looked like the recovery of the regatta was about to crowned with the best possible finish for local heroes Benjamin Bildstein and David Hussl. On day one, Hussl had been so ill that the Austrian team’s coach stepped in at the front with Bildstein. They were sitting outside of the top 10 with a mountain to climb if they were to have a chance of getting on to the podium. With Hussl recovered and the team back together, they started to put together a solid set of scores.

At the final bear away of the regatta, the Austrians rounded next to an Irish team in 4th place. The simultaneous gybe-set would have gone fine except the Irish trawled the gennaker. In trying to avoid their suddenly-stopped rivals the Austrians capsized! They slipped six places to 10th. The losing margin to the Germans was just 3 points. If only Bildstein and Hussl had avoided the Irish - but that’s yacht racing at the highest level. A game of small margins.

For the Croatian brothers, Šime and Mihovil Fantela, it was also a case of what might have been when they discovered that their race win in the first heat of the morning was a U-Flag disqualification for breaking the start line just a fraction early. The 2018 World Champions had to be satisfied with a bronze medal in Lake Attersee. A race win in the final heat lifted Jonas Warrer and Jakob Precht of Denmark to fourth overall.

Results here

Published in Tokyo 2020

Fortunes have improved for two Irish 49ers after six qualifying races of the 49er European Championships in Austria. After a shaky start, double Belfast Olympian Ryan Seaton sailing with Seafra Guilfoyle, are now one place (and five points) behind Dubliners Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove in 16th overall. A third Irish entry in the 55-boat fleet on Lake Attersee is Sean Donnelly and Marcus O'Leary from the Royal St. George Yacht Club who are in fiftieth position.

Šime and Mihovil Fantela scored a 3,1,1 from their qualifying group, moving the Croatians slightly further ahead in the overall standings. The 2018 World Champions are 3 points ahead of the fast-improving Dutch crew, Bart Lambriex and Pim van Vugt, who took 1,3,2, from their side of qualifying. The Dutch team, recently selected for Tokyo 2021, were vigorous in claiming early rights on the pin end of the start line and defending that place with pinpoint precision slow-speed boat handling. In third overall are the Italians Uberti Crivelli Visconti and Leonardo Chistè.

It was good to see David Hussl recovered sufficiently from recent illness to be back in the 49er with his helmsman Benjamin Bildstein and the Austrian team improved throughout the day to move to 11th overall. Two places further back are the Danish duo who won Kiel Week last month, Jonas Warrer and Jakob Precht. Unlike fellow Kiel winners Lutz and Beucke, the Danes seem to be struggling to adapt their winning ways to this very different kind of challenge, lake sailing in light and fluky winds.

Results are here

Published in Tokyo 2020
Tagged under

Two of Ireland's three Olympic men's Laser campaigners finished in the top ten of the Italian Olympic Week fleet today even though they didn't manage to sail the final race in Follonica.

Howth's Ewan McMahon closed the gap on the National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch when he moved up from 12th to finish tenth overall, just three places behind the 2016 Rio rep. Ballyholme's Liam Glynn finished 21st in the 88-boat fleet. 

It all adds up to an exciting Irish contest where the prize will be a place at the Tokyo Olympics if a nation berth can be won by any of the three.

As Afloat reported last November, before any Irish Olympic nomination can be conferred at least one of the three must win one of two final European Olympic slots remaining but that Olympic qualifying regatta will not now be held until 2021. 

Racing was cut short for the Irish trio in Italy today as they ditched the last race of the series this afternoon in order to catch a flight home before Italy closed to Ireland as a 'green listed' country in the latest round of COVID travel restrictions.

Both American Charlie Buckingham and Brazilian Robert Scheidt managed to overhaul overnight leader Guatemalan Juan Ignacio Maegli for the overall win, according to provisional results issued.

Download results below

The next event for the Irish Laser men is the Europeans in Poland, Gdynia, 6th to 12th of October.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Dun Laoghaire Harbour skiff sailor Saskia Tidey of the Royal Irish Yacht Club was part of a four medal haul for Britain's Olympic Team GB at Kiel in Germany last weekend. 

The British Sailing Team returned an impressive four medals from the popular Kiel Week sailing regatta taking two silver and two bronze.

Charlotte Dobson and Tidey took bronze 49erFX bronze as part of their build-up to Tokyo 2021. 

Tidey sailed for Ireland at Rio in the 49erFX but four years later has been selected for Team GB in the same class and is viewed as a medal prospect.

As the return to international racing continues for the British sailors, Team GB athletes John Gimson and Anna Burnet took silver in the Nacra 17, Elliot Hanson claimed silver in the ILCA7.

Hanson was joined on the ILCA7 (formerly Laser Standard) podium by team-mate and training partner Michael Beckett who took bronze.

Published in Tokyo 2020
Tagged under

Two Irish Tokyo rivals both now in the hunt for one of the final European Olympic berths have resumed their battle after COVID at a scaled-down Kiel Week Regatta 2020, in northern Germany this week.

With two races left to sail its Howth and Skerries duo Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove that lead Irish hopes in 15th in the 52-boat fleet with two final races left to sail today. The pair, who also recorded the top Irish result at the 2020 World Championships in Australia in February, are in the top 30% of the fleet and as such it makes a welcome return to the race track, except for a UFD penalty in yesterday's final race of the day.

The Belfast and Cork combination of double Olympian Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle will have probably been looking for more out of the week on the Baltic than their current 32nd position in the international fleet.

Both the 49er teams will head to Austria for the 49er European Championships, from 28 Sept – 4 October on Lake Attersee, a notoriously tricky venue.

As Afloat reported previously Irish campaigns chasing last places in the 49er, Laser and Finn classes were in turmoil in Spring when COVID-19 hit key final European qualifications in Italy and Spain, ultimately postponing the Games itself.

Ireland is competing with Belgium, Sweden and Italy for the one remaining European place. Form at the 2020 Worlds suggests that Irish sailors would be favourites for the place having finished ahead of the other three candidates but the final selection system has yet to be confirmed.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Annalise Murphy, Ireland's only qualified sailor for Tokyo 2021, is entered for this week's Kiel Week. The massive German Regatta marks her return to international competition since the outbreak of COVID.

Regular Afloat readers will know that the Olympic programme was thrown into disarray in March when important European Olympic qualifiers were cancelled during the Pandemic.

Now, with the resumption of competition, it is more than clear there is pent up demand with both the quantity and quality of fleets signed up to race on the Baltic Sea.

This is more than evident in Murphy's red hot Laser Radial fleet gathering in Kiel.

The complete top ten of the World Championships 2020 (where Murphy finished 12th) in the Olympic one-handed class for women is on the starting line. Also the three medal winners from Rio Olympics.

Foremost the Olympic champion of 2016 and reigning world champion Marit Bouwmeester from the Netherlands. As at the World Championships in Australia earlier this year, Bouwmeester will meet her compatriot and World Championship runner-up Maxime Jonker, the Norwegian Line Flem Höst, and Anne-Marie Rindom from Denmark. The Dane won the Kieler Woche in 2018 and won the bronze medal ahead of Brazil at the Olympic Games.

Also, last year's winner of Kieler Woche and Olympic and World Championship 6th, Josefin Olsson from Sweden, is certainly among the candidates for the Kieler Woche victory.

As well as Ireland's 2016 silver medalist, the Olympic fifth-placed from Finland Tuula Tenkanen completes the field of favourites.

After Kiel, Murphy will travel to Gdansk, Poland for more training and preparation before the European Championships starting on 6 October.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Annalise Murphy's bid for Tokyo Gold got a boost today with the Olympic Federation of Ireland announcement of details of its 2020 discretionary funding packages and sailing rewarded with the biggest handout.

The Olympic silver medalist from Rio is the only Irish sailor so far qualified for the postponed Games with men's Irish Laser and 49er skiff campaigns both looking for the last of the Olympic berths.

Murphy was nominated for the Radial class after a trial was cut short by the Irish Sailing Association in June.

The €80,000 announced today provides support for eight Olympic focused and development projects. Many sports had already exceeded the two-award cap placed on this Olympic cycle, making the number of applicants for this latest tranche of funding smaller than previous rounds.

Two winter-sports were awarded grants, reflecting the growing proximity of Beijing 2022.

The funding is entirely generated thanks to the support of commercial partners, primary sponsor, FBD, and OFI partners, Indeed and Circle K. The funding is designed to leverage and enhance Sport Ireland funding, helping National Federations to deliver new performance-related initiatives to support their athletes.

The OFI’s discretionary funding stream is separate to Olympic Solidarity grants to member federations and the 12 Tokyo and 7 Beijing athlete scholarship awards.

Today’s awards were made following the decision of the discretionary funding committee, chaired by OFI CEO, Peter Sherrard and composed of Tokyo Chef de Mission, Tricia Heberle, Sport Ireland High-Performance Director, Paul McDermott, and Independent consultant, Brian MacNeice of Kotinos Partners.

  • Bobsleigh and Skeleton €10,000
  • Canoeing Ireland €10,000
  • Ice Hockey €10,000
  • Boxing €10,000
  • Gymnastics €10,000
  • Modern Pentathlon €10,000
  • Volleyball € 8,000
  • Sailing €12,000

Peter Sherrard, CEO of the Olympic Federation of Ireland welcomed today’s allocation,

“Since June 2018, we have made 46 sperate grant awards to our member federations under the OFI discretionary funding programme, which is made possible thanks to commercial revenues from our sponsors. Their support and this funding is vital in helping athletes and performance directors realise a wide range of extremely worthy projects, delivering tangible performance and developmental benefits for the athletes.

“As we close out on this first run of the programme in 2020, our objective is to enhance and expand it the for the next four-year period leading up to Beijing 2022 and Paris 2024. This objective is made all the more important due to the difficulties being faced our sports during the Covid 19 pandemic.”

Published in Annalise Murphy

Aoife Hopkins will not appeal last week’s decision to cut-short the Radial Olympic trial for Tokyo 2021 as Howth Yacht Club, expressed its disappointment for both the former U21 European Champion and clubmate Eve McMahon, both contestants in the Irish trials. 

Irish Sailing announced its decision to select Rio silver medalist Annalise Murphy, after only one of a series of three trials had been sailed.

Hopkins (21), who was Murphy's (30) nearest rival for the single Tokyo berth, was left 'devastated' last week when the trials were stopped.

"I really can’t understand the decision not to continue with the trials. I am utterly and completely devastated", she told Afloat after the decision.

Speaking at the weekend, Howth Yacht Club Commodore Ian Byrne told Afloat 'Our club is naturally disappointed for Aoife and Eve and that they didn’t get the chance to follow through with their campaigns'.

Under the selection process, if one or more of the trial regattas are cancelled, then the person with the best performance in the completed trial regattas secures the nomination. 

Murphy finished the ILCA Laser Radial Women’s World Championship in 12th place, Hopkins finished in 40th, Aisling Keller 63rd, and Academy sailor McMahon 78th.

The manner in which the decision was made and conveyed to Hopkins took her and supporters aback last Monday, (including some sponsors), given that the Olympics is still a year away, adding heft to her argument there was plenty of time to complete the trials series among the four Irish contestants.

Hopkins club has expressed its disappointment at the decision despite the fact that the Rio silver medalist may have set a tough target for the others after a top placing at February's World Championships.

Hopkins is arguably the most affected by the decision, given the length of her campaign and also that she might have expected to be in Tokyo, before Annalise’s return to the class after she gave up on the 49er FX last September. 

Hopkins also had a club rival in young Academy sailor Eve McMahon who had been given the chance to contest the trial as a 16-year-old, so the Radial trial was of significant interest at Ireland's biggest yacht club.

McMahon is playing a ‘long game’, with a clear focus on future campaigns. A talented racer, she already has what it takes to compete at the highest level and was crowned U17 champion at the Worlds in February.

Hopkins says she is taking time out to reassess her situation.

'Aoife is a talented and hard-working competitor and once she’s had the time to reflect on her situation, she will emerge stronger than ever, Howth's Brian Turvey told Afloat. 'it’s easy to forget that Eve is still only 16 years of age and she has a terrific future ahead of her'.

'We have followed their progress and supported their campaigns since their first aspirations in competition and we are gutted for them after what must feel like a lifetime of commitment', Commodore Byrne added.

We wish Annalise well and hope that Irish Sailing’s interjection in this process produces the right result, the HYC Commodore said.

As Afloat previously reported, Irish Sailing's James O'Callaghan said "Annalise’s performance in the 2020 Worlds made her a clear favourite to win the scheduled trials. By nominating her now the Irish Sailing Board have ensured that team preparations can move focus to the Olympics rather than preparing for domestic trials”.

He went on to say: “for sure this is tough on Aoife but she is still very young and can benefit massively from team training planned in Tokyo”.

O'Callaghan said at the weekend that no appeals against the decision had been received. Murphy's nomination will be put forward to the Olympic Federation of Ireland for ratification.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Rio 2016 silver medallist Annalise Murphy will be nominated in the Laser Radial to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Irish Sailing has announced.

Murphy secured the Laser Radial nomination after the conclusion of the trials in which her three teammates Aoife Hopkins, Aisling Keller and Eve McMahon also competed.

The rivals have been given their reaction to the news here.

There were originally three scheduled trial regattas :

  • ILCA Laser Radial Women’s World Championship, Melbourne, Australia (21-28 February 2020)
  • Trofeo Princesa Sofia, Palma, Spain (28 March – 4 April 2020)
  • Hyéres Regatta, France (18 – 25 April 2020)

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, both the Palma and Hyéres events were cancelled, and the 2020 Olympics postponed until 2021. Under the selection process, if one or more of the trial regattas are cancelled, then the person with the best performance in the completed trial regattas secures the Laser Radial nomination. Annalise Murphy finished the ILCA Laser Radial Women’s World Championship in 12th place, Aoife Hopkins finished in 40th, Aisling Keller 63rd, and Eve McMahon 78th.

While uncertainty still exists as to the future international sailing calendar it is planned that the team will continue to train at home in the Dun Laoghaire Performance HQ. Aoife Hopkins is a senior carded athlete who remains a key member of the training group along with Academy sailor Eve McMahon. Aisling Keller has decided to return to college.

James O’Callaghan, Irish Sailing Performance Director commented “Annalise’s performance in the 2020 Worlds made her a clear favourite to win the scheduled trials. By nominating her now the Irish Sailing Board have ensured that team preparations can move focus to the Olympics rather than preparing for domestic trials”. He went on to say: “for sure this is tough on Aoife but she is still very young and can benefit massively from team training planned in Tokyo”.

Murphy's nomination will now be put forward to the Olympic Federation of Ireland for ratification.

Published in Annalise Murphy
Page 1 of 9

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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