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It was with dismay that I read in the media of another possible attempt to close Valentia Coastguard station in Co Kerry — there was an attempt to close it in 2009, and Malin Head station, and to centralise the coastguard services in Co Dublin.
They didn’t succeed, because of a huge protest, and hopefully they won’t this time either.
Valentia station is important to the fishing communities near stormy and dangerous seas off the south-west and west coasts; it is a help to transatlantic shipping when there are accidents on board and a seaman has to be airlifted to hospital; and Valentia station has been serving these functions for 90 years.
Coastguard stations were located at Valentia and Malin for sensible reasons by the British, and it is hard to believe that urban officials in Dublin will try again to close down Valentia station and not take on board its important location.
Since the last government’s attempt to close it, plans have proceeded to upgrade the station, and, according to what I read in newspaper reports, Kerry County Council spent €150,000 upgrading a road to it, and new equipment has been, or is due to be, installed. So much time and effort — and a new government thinking of closing it to save money and to have it all centralised in Co Dublin.
This is one service that needs to be kept decentralised, I think.
I really hope this plan will be abandoned and that common sense will prevail. Valentia and Malin stations have been there much longer than the Department of Transport officials, and those in and outside the department who may decide Valentia’s fate.
Many people in the south-west and west of the country who work at sea — and leisure sailors, too — don’t want Valentia closed.
The Government may say we’ll save money. They can look elsewhere. Ministers and TDs need to show in our time of austerity that being chosen and elected by the people and for the people must mean something and not for it to be government by decree on everything. There has to be compromise and give and take. The lives saved over the years by Valentia station make it too important to be closed. And that applies to Malin too.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s grandad worked as a lighthouse keeper and he seems to have an understanding for people who live by and with the sea. I am hoping he can have a quiet word in the ear of the Minister for Transport.
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