Coast Guard should have emergency service status

Malin Head Coastguard Station.
Malin Head Coastguard Station.

Calls have been made to recognise the Irish Coast Guard as an emergency service.

Councillor Martin McDermott put forward a motion at Monday’s meeting of Donegal County Council in Lifford to “have the Coast Guard recognised the same as the other main emergency services in this country and to have this motion passed to all other Councils in Ireland.”

He said: “The Coast Guard is not an official emergency service, there is no legislation that gives it any standing.

“I am trying to push this so the Coast Guard get the same standing as the other emergency services.

“There are 43 stations across the country, with over 1,000 volunteers. The Coast Guard helicopters are used in cases of medical emergencies such as cardiac incidents - acting as an emergency service. It is a very professional organisation and needs to be treated that way.”

Malin Head Coast Guard station was under threat of closure in 2012 when the government planned to scale back operations. “We should be doing what we can to secure this service. It’s an issue close to my heart. Because of where I live in Glengad I’ve witnessed so many tragedies.

“When my own father-in-law was lost, the Coast Guard was out for every day for 21 days searching.

“The least we can do is get the Coast Guard the legislative power it deserves and be recognised as an emergency service. This would go a long way to secure the station in Malin Head, so that we are not back in the same situation as five years ago,” he added.