Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (478)

Bernard Allen


593 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources why coast guards are only paid €1.80 per hour despite being at a financial loss on most occasions when called out because they must leave their places of work. [1403/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources)

The Irish Coast Guard has 52 coastal units, manned by volunteers, at strategic locations around the coast. Some 850 volunteers are available to respond. Volunteers are paid a rate of €10.61 for the first hour of any call-out and €3.81 for each subsequent hour. Every unit is headed by an area officer and deputy area officer who receive quarterly retainers of €222.20 and €111.10 respectively. Any out of pocket expenses incurred for items such as meals purchased during an incident are also refunded.

It is considered that the voluntary nature of the service should be maintained and call-out payments are seen as a refund to offset expenses. The expenses are also comparable with those paid in other voluntary marine emergency services.