Thursday, 12 July 2012

Questions (264)

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn


265 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will assure the people of the north west of Ireland that he will not accept the proposal to wind down Malin Head Marine Rescue Sub Centre in the report compiled by Fisher Associates, Irish Coast Guard: Value for Money Review and the level of State investment undertaken in the ongoing refurbishment the Malin Head Marine Rescue Sub Centre. [34070/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport)

The Fisher reports identified a number of key issues which need to be addressed in Ireland's maritime transport sector and marine emergency response regimes. These include enhancing Ireland's pollution preparedness and response capability and Coast Guard volunteer training and management. I have informed the Government that my Department will consider the matters raised in the reports and an action plan to address the deficiencies will be prepared, which I will present to Government in October.

I wish to make it clear that I do not propose to accept or reject any of the recommendations proposed by the Fisher reports at this stage and no decisions have been taken in relation to any of the issues involved.

In preparing the response each recommendation will be assessed and actions will be prioritised to address the deficiencies. This process also represents an opportunity to create more efficient and effective maritime safety regulatory arrangements and emergency response services. In particular, we now have an opportunity to address serious deficiencies in Ireland's ability to address a major pollution incident, and to improve the management and training of Coast Guard teams around Ireland. It will be crucial too for the development of shipping, trade and employment, which have a key role to play in Ireland's economic recovery.

New communications systems are currently being installed in the Malin Head station, which has been closed since May, as part of a general upgrading of communications infrastructure in the Coast Guard. It is expected that the upgrade work will be complete next month and the Malin station will reopen at that time.

Work on communications architecture and associated preparatory work in Malin to enable the equipment to be installed, including refurbishment and a general clean up of the centre will cost in the region of €100,000.

The work on enhancing the communications infrastructure in the three Coast Guard rescue co-ordination stations is essential for the on-going operation and maintenance of the service. Very old equipment that has passed its operating life has to be replaced now irrespective of any decisions that might be taken in the future regarding the operation of any of the station.