Fianna Fáil TD James Browne has criticised the Government for its neglect of the Coast Guard service in Wexford.
Deputy Browne made the comments after obtaining new information through parliamentary question replies which shows that of the six Coastguard stations in Wexford, only two have running water and indoor bathrooms.
Deputy Browne said, “Coastal communities the length and breadth of Ireland are all too aware of the vital role that the coastguard plays in keeping people safe from harm’s way. The Irish Coastguard is an almost entirely voluntary organisation, and its volunteers give up hours of their own free time to get trained, train new members and conduct search and rescue operations. That is not to mention the peril that they face every time they head out to save someone else’s life in challenging circumstances.
“In recent months I have met with members of the Coast Guard and one of the things that struck me was the lack of basic infrastructure in some of their stations. Fianna Fáil submitted a number of parliamentary questions on this issue and received confirmation that just two out of the six stations here in Wexford have bathrooms and running water.
“This means that volunteers, who might have to spend hours in a station house while they are conducting a search and rescue mission, do not have access to the most basic sanitary facilities. Three do not have any internet facilities and yet coastguard members are expected to stay fully up to date on weather conditions, liaise with colleagues and the Coastguard’s head office, and essentially run a very complex operation from these bases.
“Leaving Coastguard Units to languish in these conditions shows a fundamental lack of respect on the part of Government towards the Coastguard and their work. I am calling on Minister Shane Ross to expedite the upgrade and refurbishment of any coastguard unit without running water, bathroom, or internet facilities. To help get the Coastguard the recognition that they deserve, Fianna Fáil will be bringing forward a Bill to place the Irish Coastguard on a statutory footing.”