Donegal North East Sinn Féin TD, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has expressed his “frustration and disappointment” that the Government did not take an opportunity in the Dáil yesterday to reject a proposal in the report by Fisher Associates for the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport “Irish Coast Guard: Value for Money Review” that recommends the closure of Malin Head Marine Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC).
Deputy Mac Lochlainn sought an emergency debate along with Deputy Charlie McConalogue, calling on the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar to “remove the threat of closure to the Malin Head Coastguard Station and its proud century old tradition of service to our people and region”.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said: “The Malin Head Marine Rescue Sub Centre is currently closed for extensive renovations. Those renovations are the outcome of a long campaign by local public representatives, fishermen, community activists, and the entire community in the North West to secure the long-term future of the centre/ station. I made clear to Minister of State in the Department of Transport, Alan Kelly yesterday that if neccessary that campaign will recommence and that the people of the North West will fight like tigers to maintain the centre”.
“The recommendation by Fisher consultants to close the Malin Head MRSC while substantial renovations are on-going is plain daft. The Minister and his Government should have immediately rejected this suggestion and allayed the concerns of the people of the North West”
He continued: “In November 2003, the people of Malin Head, Inishowen and the North West were assured that the then Minister for Communications, Marine, and Natural Resources, Dermot Ahern would act on the Deloitte/ Touche report at that time and make Malin Head and Valentia the two centres to operate the Marine Rescue Coordination Centre in the state. Not only were these centres to be maintained, the third Dublin centre was to be phased out and they were to be upgraded in terms of technological capacity and personnel.
Despite this assurance, the Dublin centre was maintained and upgraded and the Malin Head and Valentia centres were threatened with closure.
After a hard fought campaign, both centres were maintained and Malin Head is currently being renovated”.
He concluded: “I have to ask just what the agenda at play is here? Why do we have another expensive consultant’s report, this time calling for Malin Head MRSC to be closed? In real terms, how much money will be saved and at what cost to the morale of the people of the North West? The Government need to put this nonsense to bed once and for all and reject this latest proposal”.