MALIN Head Coast Guard staff celebrated with families and friends last night as a €1.2M investment was unveiled.
But celebrations could be short-lived if the Government goes ahead with a recommendation to close the Co Donegal facility in just four weeks’ time.
Thirteen jobs could go if the Transport Minister Leo Varadkar moves services to Dublin.
Last night politicians from both sides of the Border were in Malin Head to show their support for the Coast Guard team.
Representatives of the RNLI from across the North West gathered in a marquee to hear about the work of the Coast Guard staff.
TDs Joe McHugh and Padraig MacLochlainn were among those celebrating 207 years of service at the station as new state-of-the art computer equipment was shown off in a newly refurbished HQ.
Campaigners believe its closure would cost lives.
Lifeboat crews and members of other rescue services who rely on Malin Head staff also attended the event to see the new computer equipment for themselves.
“There has been a Coast Guard in Malin Head since 1805,” said station controller Derek Flanagan.
“There has been a 24/7 service 365 days a year since 1919, so it has been an important base for seafarers for more than 200 years.
“It’s not just a service for people in Ireland but for people all over the world. We have even picked up distress signals in the South China Sea.
“Staff are a bit down at the moment because we have these fantastic new facilities and the very latest equipment, yet we don’t know if the station will close or not in October when it is discussed at the cabinet.”
Fine Gael Deputy Joe McHugh has been arguing for the retention of Malin Head.
“I have made the argument on the Coast Guard station remaining because of the superb expert staff we have there,” he said, “I don’t believe centralising services in Dublin will provide any real financial savings.”
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said: “I was at the opening of the newly refurbished centre. There was a large turnout of life saving volunteers, representatives from marine tourism and the fishing community, leaders from the local community and public representatives from both sides of the border.
“The centre has been upgraded with state of the art equipment that has cost hundreds of thousands. It would be nonsensical to close it down after this investment.
“In recent times, staff at the centre have overseen marine rescue operations that saved literally dozens of lives. Their knowledge of the local coastal geography and ability to direct lifeboat or helicopter crews to the exact location was invaluable.
“If that wasn’t reason enough, then proposals from the staff themselves would amount to better efficiencies for the coast guard services overall. The difference being that the efficiency proposals from the staff would keep the centre open.
“On every count, there can be no justification for closing the Malin Head Marine Rescue Sub Centre.”