Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Ceisteanna (268, 269)

Barry Cowen


268. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the statutory role of the Irish Coast Guard. [4717/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen


269. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the Irish body or agency that has statutory responsibility for search and rescue operations in waters within Ireland's jurisdiction. [4718/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 268 and 269 together.

The remit of the Irish Coastguard is derived from various sources, statutory and non-statutory, as described hereunder.

The National Framework for Major Emergency Management, which was adopted by Government decision in 2006, assigns the IRCG responsibility for co-ordinating the response to marine incidents outside port limits, except in case of Search and rescue, when all marine areas including ports are under its remit.

The Irish Marine Emergency Service (IMES) was established by Government Decision S. 21910 of 2nd August 1990 as a Division of the Department of the Marine. The name was changed to the Irish Coast Guard (IRCG) in 2000 and the division was subsequently transferred to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in 2006.

The IRCG have a number of functions, which include Search and Rescue (SAR) and Maritime Pollution Prevention and Response. SAR functions are provided for in International Conventions promulgated by both the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Ireland is a contracting State to both organisations.

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I am empowered, through National and EU Legislation, to appoint authorised officers to carry out certain functions. In relation to Maritime Pollution, there is a suite of legislation, The Sea Pollution Acts 1991-2006 under which I have appointed officers of the IRCG as authorised officers to enable them to carry out their duties.

Further powers are provided for in The Merchant Shipping (Salvage and Wreck) Act 1993 whereby officers are authorised for the purposes of saving shipwrecked persons, a vessel in distress or the cargo or apparel of the vessel.

Additionally, European Communities (Vessel Traffic Monitoring and Information System) Regulations 2010, give the IRCG powers to act in relation to Places of Refuge incidents and the monitoring of hazardous ships.  

Finally, Annexe 12 (Standards & Recommended Practices Search & Rescue) (Designation Of Authorities) Order, 1995, designated the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications as the authority responsible for execution of powers under Annex 12 to the Chicago Convention, other than in relation to Aviation Rescue Co-ordination Centres and Rescue Co-ordination Sub-Centres, which are the responsibility of the Irish Aviation Authority. This search and rescue function, where it relates to aviation accidents at sea, is carried out on my behalf by the IRCG.