Fianna Fáil TD for Wexford James Browne says new legislation brought forward by his party will protect and enhance Coast Guard services.

The Irish Coast Guard Authority Bill 2018 brings the Irish Coast Guard in line with other frontline emergency services by placing it on a statutory basis and affording it the representation, recognition and protection that it deserves.

Deputy Browne said, “The Irish Coast Guard plays an important role in protecting our fishing communities and coastlines. It is an integral part of our frontline emergency services. Day in and day out, its members place their lives on the line to steward coastal communities and all those on the seas to safety. It’s members also provide support to mountain rescue organisations right across the country.

“Members of the Coast Guard do their difficult job often in the harshest of weather conditions including huge waves, driving rain, hail, sleet, snow and high winds. Every time they go out, they put their lives at risk and we know from the tragedies suffered that is a very real risk. The loss of Rescue 116 and the lives of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, Captain Mark Duffy and crew members Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith off the coast of Mayo and separately the loss of volunteer Caitríona Lucas in recent years is testimony to that.

“There are four blue light services in Ireland: An Garda Síochána, the National Ambulance Service, the fire service and the Coast Guard. However the Coast Guard stands out as the only one of the four not protected by statutory legislation. As a consequence, it struggles for representation, recognition and protection. This legislation seeks to correct this by putting the Coast Guard on an equal footing with the other blue light services.

“I have long argued for the need for increased investment in the Irish Coast Guard. There are 40 units of the Coast Guard around the country which protect 7,500 km of our coastline. Here in Wexford, there are Rosslare, Carnsore, Curracloe, Fethard-on-Sea and Kilmore Quay Coast Guard stations, some of them which are in a deplorable state with no running water or adequate toilet facilities. The Irish Coast Guard deserves the same level of recognition and investment as the rest of our frontline emergency services,” concluded Deputy Browne.