Pier pressure sees Coast Guard open €1.9m station

One of the country’s busiest coast guard units will begin the move from a 150-year-old shed to a state-of-the-art €1.9m station today.

The 25-strong Doolin unit in north Clare currently operates from a building which is not even big enough to accommodate either of the unit’s search and rescue boats.

The tiny stone building is prone to flooding and was extensively damaged on two occasions during the storms that struck the west coast last January and February.

The existing facility has no toilet or shower facilities for members or even an area to treat casualties or lay out a body.

The team’s custom-built €250,000 Delta Rib (rigid inflatable boat) has to be towed 2km by tractor from a member’s home where it’s stored.

Parking problems in Doolin village and close to the pier have occasionally delayed the launch of the rescue boat.

The unit covers a wide area of north and west Clare, while the team is also responsible for Inis Oírr, the smallest of the Aran Islands, where seven more volunteers are based.

A new station had been previously promised in 2006 by then transport minister Martin Cullen, who said he regarded the provision of such a facility as “a very high priority”.

However, the €1.5m that had been set aside for the project was no longer available following further delays. Fifteen years after locals began their campaign for a new station, work on the new building began last July, while today the keys will be handed over to Irish Coast Guard Area Officer Mattie Shannon.

“We are delighted with the move,” said Mr Shannon. “As the unit expanded and got busier over the years, the need has grown for a facility which can accommodate all the extra equipment we have acquired.

“A new station is essential to ensure that our resources as a modern-day rescue service are used to their potential.

“We can now start moving our boats, vehicles and equipment into the new station.”

The new station comprises an area for the storage of the unit’s boats and their extensive cliff rescue equipment as well as changing facilities and an operations room.

The base is also considerably closer to the pier from where the unit launches its rescue boats.

It is expected that an official opening ceremony for the station will be held in October.

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