Donegal Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue has welcomed the announcement that Malin Head Coastguard Station will remain open but has warned that the battle to secure its future is not over until the Government makes a commitment to maintaining its current level of services.
 
Deputy McConalogue commented, “Malin Head Coastguard is an important part of life in Donegal and has provided a vital service to this region for decades. Its threatened closure made absolutely no sense, particularly following such significant investment in the facility in recent years.
 
“Great credit is due to the local community who campaigned tirelessly against the Government’s plans to shut down Malin Head Coastguard. This is the people’s victory – their efforts to hold Fine Gael to their election promise on this issue have now paid off. The local community already fought a battle retain the station in 2009 and since then over €800,000 has been spent on upgrading it and installing new equipment. This has ensured that the station is well positioned to provide the highest possible standard of service into the future.
 
“We need a guarantee that this is not a token gesture to simply keep the doors of Malin Head Coastguard Station open, while also reducing its services.  There has undoubtedly been a concerted effort recently to centralise Coastguard Radio services towards Dublin.  I am seeking a commitment that the station will not be downgraded and that the central role it plays in the Irish Coastguard nationally will not be diminished.”
 
Deputy McConalogue has sought assurances from the Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar that:
 
– Malin Head will be properly staffed in order to continue to play the role it has until now;
– Malin Head will continue to operate on a 24 hour basis; and
– Malin Head will get equal consideration as a base for any new services and initiatives to be undertaken by the Irish Coast Guard Service.
 
The Donegal Deputy continued, “There is genuine concern that having been blocked from closing Malin Head Coastguard Station, the Government will now take the approach of gradually diminishing services at the station.  This is why we need an urgent commitment from the Transport Minister.
 
“The North West region has been forced to bear far more than its fair share of cuts and our area is often ignored in funding announcements. Critical local facilities like our regional coastguard, which Donegal is well placed to provide, should under no circumstances be allowed to be gradually withdrawn from our county,” concluded Deputy McConalogue.