Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Pictured centre from left: Senator John Cummins, Minister with special responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard, Hildegarde Naughton and Brian Fleming (Officer in Charge, Irish Coast Guard, Bonmahon) with members of The Irish Coast Guard at this morning’s sod turning in Bonmahon.

Photo: Maxwells

THE skies were grey but the morning was as benign as one could hope for in Bonmahon at this time of year as the ceremonial sod was turned for the village’s new Coast Guard Station, with construction due to commence next week.

Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton (FG), joined by party colleague Senator John Cummins, was on hand to hoist the sod this morning alongside Coast Guard Officer in Charge Brian Fleming. The €5.3 million facility is to be built on a site literally up the lane from the existing station and will provide the local unit with enhanced storage and training capabilities.

“The Bonmahon Coast Guard unit is a key resource for the Irish Coast Guard in delivering its search and rescue mission in the Waterford area,” said Minister Naughton.

“The unit has shoreline and cliff rescue capabilities and works closely with its flank units at Ardmore and Tramore. The team here has responded to many search and cliff rescue emergencies down through the years, both maritime and inland, in rural communities and in the larger townlands of Tramore and Dungarvan…Today is a special day for our volunteers, the Irish Coast Guard and those enjoying Waterford’s beautiful coastline in the many years ahead.

The new station will provide for vehicle storage, shower, WC and changing facilities, an operations/training room, along with kitchen and office space.

Minister’s “door is open”

Acknowledging the well-publicised difficulties that the Coast Guard has experienced both locally and nationally in recent years, Minister Naughton stressed that her “door is open” to all.

She stated: “What I have done with CUAG (the Coastal Unit Advisory Group), the group which represents our volunteers across the country, is update the terms of reference; I’ve worked directly with CUAG and officials in my Department to make sure that they have the processes, the powers and the function that they need in order to represent volunteers right across the country, where there are issues that may arise around equipment or grievances (and) processes.”

Minister Naughton continued: “And I have told CUAG and the volunteers, and I am visiting the Coast Guard Units right across the country…and the message to all the volunteers that I am giving right across the country is that my door is open: if there are issues there, they are to be brought through the CUAG process where I and my officials have worked closely with CUAG in relation to what they need in order to represent volunteers when issues arise because what we have is a real professional, dedicated volunteer staff, right across the country. And we want to ensure that where there are issues that they are heard and that they are represented and that’s why we’ve worked very closely with CUAG around changing the terms of reference and changing them  – and I think we’ll be reviewing this constantly and if something is not working I have said to them that my door is open.”

See next Tuesday’s print edition for more from Bonmahon

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