Following the revelation that the Irish Coast Guard staff and volunteers have been told they are no longer permitted to use blue lights and sirens on vehicles while driving,
Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has expressed grave concerns about the ramifications of this directive. In a letter written to Eugene Clonan, Acting Director of the Irish Coast Guard, Cllr Byrne stated: “As a Public Representative in Louth, based in the Municipal District of Drogheda, I have major reservations over this, and genuinely fear it is a pen-pushing decision that will no doubt result in the loss of lives.”
Cllr Byrne said “The Drogheda Coast Guards unit alone attended 86 emergency call outs in 2018, that’s touching on nearly two call outs a week. In 2018, 17 people were rescued by this unit and a further 20 people were intervened with before entering the water.”
Cllr Byrne went on to state that “The River Boyne has torn many families in Drogheda apart losing loved ones to it, my own father included, and the service the Coast Guard provide in rescues (among other things) is invaluable to the people of our town. I am confident that without the use of blue lights, the turn out times of this unit to incidents would be severely impacted and we could be reading statistics on how many deaths occurred rather than the fantastic results stated above.
“Any step like this put in place to hinder this service is a retrograde move in my opinion.”
Cllr Byrne concluded in issuing a stark warning to Mr.Clonan that it would be on his head when this time next year they would be sitting discussing deaths.
Cllr Byrne demanded to know what consultation or communication there was with the management of the Coastguard before this being implemented and what the plans are for the sufficient training to be rolled out to the drivers.
Subsequent to this, Cllr Byrne has tabled a motion for Louth County Council’s March meeting calling for Ministerial intervention to reverse this decision, or to commit to the rolling out of training as a matter of urgency within the organisation, before many lives in this County are put at risk.