There has been shock over confirmation that Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) will not apply for the funding to proceed with the €1.5 million Sea Survival Training Center in Greencastle.
Donegal Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has described the lack of plans for the project at the National Fisheries College in Greencastle as “shameful”.
The Senator received the information from the Minister for the Marine, who said the proposed project is under review. The Minister confirmed that there is no provision or plans to proceed with this additional project and funding has not been requested by Bord Iascaigh Mhara for 2020, nor has it been provided, for the facility.
Senator Mac Lochlainn said it is clear that the plans have been abandoned: “In 2016, just before the general election, the Fine Gael led government announced this funding and it was widely reported in Donegal.
“Almost four years on and the latest response from the Minister for the Marine, to my questions, confirms that the well-advanced plans for the centre are still under “review” and that BIM has not requested any funding to move to construction in 2020.
“It is clear from the full text of the Minister’s response that they have abandoned this Sea Survival Training Center for fishermen, emergency services and marine tourism providers in the northern half of the island.
“This is shameful and I am calling on Donegal Minister Joe McHugh to clarify where he stands on this issue now having welcomed the funding announcement back in 2016,” he said.
It was stated that the new centre would include the development of a fifteen-meter simulator pool, an elevated platform equipped with a wave machine, water spray unit and fans capable of simulating the type of extreme weather conditions fishermen are often faced with.
The centre would also be equipped with two changing areas, a self-contained heating unit which can maintain water temperatures of 23-28 degrees Celsius, as well as a water treatment unit and a new classroom which can accommodate sixteen students.
This would allow the college to replicate weather conditions and provide a more extensive training course.
Mac Lochlainn spoke about the importance of training and testing the fishers in tough conditions.
“Surely we have learned from too many tragedies at sea how important it is to train and test our fishers in surroundings that accurately reflect the tough conditions that they will face at sea,” he said.
The only other centre of its kind is to be found in Cork at the other end of the island.