Doolin coast guard to avoid tractor tow

ONE of the busiest coastguard units in the state is in line for a new coastguard station.

Currently, the Doolin coastguard unit has to drag its €250,000 Delta boat 2km by tractor to Doolin pier.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) yesterday began seeking tenders for the construction of a state-of-the-art, €1.9 million coastguard station at Doolin pier.

The move comes one year after Clare County Council granted planning permission for the development.

Over the past 13 years, locals have campaigned for a new coastguard station.

Yesterday, Senator Martin Conway (FG) likened the current coastguard station to something from the 1950s.

The officer in charge of the unit, Mattie Shannon, welcomed the OPW’s move.

“It is a move in the right direction,” he said. “We’re delighted.”

Prior to the OPW seeking tenders yesterday, Mr Shannon had expressed fears that it may not be until 2014 before construction would commence.

However, Mr Shannon said that he remained cautious about a start date for the station’s construction.

He confirmed that the unit has recovered eight bodies off the north Co Clare coast this year and has recorded 37 call-outs already in 2011 — compared to 46 call outs for 2009.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Transport said yesterday: “The provision of a coastguard unit station for Doolin is one of the top building priorities for the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

“It has not been possible to provide any funding for a unit station this year and no funding was allocated, or withdrawn, at any stage. However, the potential for funding is currently being investigated.

“It may be possible to conduct some additional preparatory work for a coastguard unit this year, depending on available resources. The project as a whole will be considered in light of next year’s funding, and the expenditure review.”

Fianna Fáil transport spokesman and Clare TD Timmy Dooley said: “The least the current Government can do is honour the commitment of the previous government and ensure that the appropriate finances are in place for next year.”

Mr Dooley said the unit is made up of a “tireless group of volunteer workers working in very trying circumstances”.

“He said the current situation is unacceptable.

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