Mediator appointed to help resolve Doolin Coast Guard issues

Six members of the Doolin unit resigned on November 1 forcing the Department of Transport to take the station ‘off the board’
Mediator appointed to help resolve Doolin Coast Guard issues

The weekly training night for the Doolin unit of the Irish Coast Guard has also been cancelled. File picture: Brian Arthur

The former director general of the Workplace Relations Commission has been requested by the Department of Transport to meet with members of the Doolin unit of the Irish Coast Guard which was stood down earlier this month.

Kieran Mulvey will engage with volunteers next week in “an effort to resolve issues that have arisen in the unit". Six members of the Doolin unit resigned unexpectedly on November 1 forcing the Department of Transport to take the station "off the board". This means the remaining 12 volunteers have been barred from responding to search, rescue, or recovery operations.

The team’s weekly training night has also been cancelled while members awaiting assessment in various competencies they had been training in have been told those assessments have also been cancelled.

Last week, Clare Fianna Fáil senator Timmy Dooley asked the junior minister at the Department of Transport, Hildegard Naughton, to appoint a mediator in an effort to resolve the issues in Doolin. 

Ms Naughton committed to doing so and took on board a suggestion from Mr Dooley that mediator and former Workplace Relations Commission director general Kieran Mulvey be approached and asked to undertake the task.

The remaining members of Doolin Coast Guard have now been advised by the Department of Transport that Mr Mulvey has been appointed to the role of mediator while volunteers have been requested to meet with and "co-operate fully with Mr Mulvey". 

In a letter from the Maritime Strategy and Governance Division of the Department of Transport, on behalf of the Irish Coast Guard, members have been told: “Minister Hildegarde Naughton has decided, in response to the recent events in Doolin Coast Guard Unit and arising from both representations from public representatives in the region and other local representations, to request Kieran Mulvey to act as a mediator in an effort to resolve the difficulties that have arisen in the Unit.

"The minister is particularly anxious that a resolution to the issues which have arisen is sought and that the unit is returned to a fully operational status as early as possible. 

"This is vitally important to ensure that all those who avail of our local coasts and land cliffs contiguous to our shores are reassured that if any emergency arises a full Coast Guard service is available to respond locally. The operation of the Doolin Coast Guard Unit is essential to this objective.” 

The communication to members states: “The minister is of the view that all parties should co-operate fully with Mr Mulvey, and with his guidance and experience, seek to reach an amicable and long-term resolution to the issues that have led to the suspension of the Coast Guard service in Doolin.” 

Members have been told that “the mediation process will be confidential in nature and Mr Mulvey will report back to the minister upon its conclusion".

Mr Dooley welcomed the appointment of Mr Mulvey as an independent arbitrator in the dispute.

He said: “I am pleased that the minister has taken on my suggestion to appoint Mr Kieran Mulvey and I am thankful to him for taking on the task. Mr Mulvey will bring immense experience to the role having been involved in the resolution of many disputes over the years. I hope all sides will engage.

“The Doolin Coast Guard is one of the best-known coastguards not just in Co Clare but right across the country because it has had such a high profile in search and rescue operations on so many occasions. 

"Sadly, much of its work involves the recovery of loved ones who have departed through suicide from the Cliffs of Moher. The work is arduous and difficult. 

“I look forward to a resolution being found for the people who work in the service and for those who depend on the service."

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