Politics

Morale in Irish Coast Guard at ‘all time low’, committee hears

Morale amongst volunteers within the Irish Coast Guard is at present at an “all time low”, partly resulting from rising “red tape” and the dealing with of disciplinary proceedings in opposition to members, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

A grassroots group, the Irish Coast Guard Volunteers Consultant Affiliation, instructed the Oireachtas committee on transport that many search and rescue models had been at half energy resulting from inner tensions within the organisation.

The group mentioned many volunteers felt they’d been unfairly focused by Coast Guard administration beneath the organisation’s disciplinary procedures, which had led to many senior volunteers resigning or being dismissed.

John O’Mahony, chair of a bunch and former deputy officer of the Toehead/Glandore unit in Co Cork, mentioned tensions between volunteers and administration had been rising for a number of years.

Bernard Lucas, a volunteer from the Doolin unit, whose spouse Caitríona Lucas died off the coast of Co Clare after an inflatable boat capsized throughout a search mission in 2016, mentioned volunteers had been pissed off by “red tape gone way overboard”.

In an incident in current days Mr Lucas mentioned Coast Guard volunteers had been prevented from serving to somebody who had fallen and injured themselves on a pathway on the Cliffs of Moher.

Volunteers on the scene couldn’t climb over a fence to assist the casualty, as they had been prohibited from working on sections of the cliffs deemed unsafe.

As an alternative the volunteers needed to anticipate Fireplace Brigade models who had been allowed to entry the world to assist the casualty, he mentioned.

“This person was just literally there roaring in pain … three volunteers turned up from Doolin and there was nothing they could do,” he instructed the committee. Mr Lucas mentioned the incident confirmed the shortcomings of volunteers being certain to tips “drawn up in an office for every scenario”.

One other officer, Vince Farr, mentioned the volunteers “would have been better off taking off the Coast Guard jacket and acting as a good samaritan … But because the culture is instilled that they’ll be punished for doing this they’re afraid”.

Jim Griffin, a former officer in Dunmore East, Co Waterford, instructed the committee “morale is at an all time low” within the Coast Guard, with many models “limping along” at current.

Sinn Féin transport spokesman Darren O’Rourke mentioned the “deep concerns” from volunteers would should be addressed by the organisation.

Nice Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer mentioned it was clear “that there is something fundamentally not right” throughout the Coast Guard.

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