An independent association has been established to represent Irish Coast Guard (“IRCG”) Volunteers concerns as Caitriona Lucas is remembered
For the first time in the history of the Irish State, an independent Association has been established to represent the concerns of Irish Coast Guard (“IRCG”) Volunteers.
The Irish Coast Guard Volunteers Representative Association (“ICGVRA”), consisting of existing and former IRCG volunteers, was launched in Kilkee over the bank holiday weekend following a moving commemoration for Caitriona Lucas who lost her life at Kilkee on 12th September 2016.
During the ceremony Emma Lucas, daughter of Caitriona Lucas, placed a wreath for her mother, together with John O Mahony, Chairman ICGVRA, on the cliff top beside where Caitriona died when Kilkee’s Irish Coast Guard Delta Rib capsized. ICGVRA’s launch was attended by several politicians, including Clare Oireachtas members Joe Carey TD and Senator Roisin Garvey, Senator Gerard Craughwell (Galway), and Maurice Quinlivan TD (Limerick), as well as international maritime lawyer, Michael Kingston.
Many Irish Coast Guard Volunteers both past and present spoke movingly about the importance of having an independent association to represent their interests. Bernard Lucas, Vice Chairperson of ICGVRA said “Volunteers are central to the strength and capability of the Coast Guard Units and their value must be prioritised. For far too long volunteers have had no voice. The time is now to stand together for the betterment of the Coast Guard as a whole and its volunteers.”
ICGVRA Chairman, John O Mahony stated “In the history of the Irish Coast Guard there has never been an independent voice to speak on behalf of the Volunteers as a collective, to ensure that the well-being of volunteers from their perspective is at the heart of best practice policies within Units and in Units and volunteers’ interaction with IRCG Management. We need to be here to offer support and help to all IRCG members both past and present, to assist in resolving any issues that they may have struggled with, and to work with IRCG Management to ensure best practice prevails so that issues do not arise, if possible, in the first place. And if they do, we are here to ensure that when conflicts arise, they can be resolved objectively and transparently whilst exercising fairness and common sense. We are here to establish positive dialogue with I.R.G.C management”
ICGVRA Secretary, Jim Griffin, who relayed to those present the aims of ICGVRA said “The formation of the Irish Coast Guard Volunteers Representative Association is long overdue given the events and treatment of IRCG Volunteers in recent years by H.Q. It has become apparent that IRCG management have adopted a ‘Divide and Conquer’ mentality towards the Volunteers”
ICGVRA is now seeking an urgent meeting with Transport Minister, Eamonn Ryan, and has already, through Darren O Rourke TD (Sinn Fein), raised their concerns with the Transport Minister. Joe Carey TD (Fine Gael) and Senator Gerard Craughwell (Independent), as members of the Transport and Communications Committee (together with Darren O Rourke) confirmed they would also be raising ICGVRA’s concerns at the next Committee meeting.
Maurice Quinlivan TD said, “I attended the very powerful meeting at the launch of the Irish Coast Guard Volunteers Representative Association in Kilkee. Some of the Volunteers in the Irish Coast Guard have been treated appalling. Some of the stories and experiences I heard were powerful and distressing.
“It is utterly shameful that Volunteers in our Coast Guard were subjected to this. They need this new group to represent their concerns. When volunteers with 20 or more years’ service to the Irish Coast Guard are walking away and have given up, someone should have taken notice before now.
“The Government must act and establish an independent review of that organisation [IRCG].”
Michael Kingston said, “The issues that you as an Association wish to address going forward, in order to ensure best practice prevails in the wellbeing and safety of Irish Coast Guard volunteers, in their interactions in their Units, and in their and their Units interactions with Irish Coast Guard Management and the Department of Transport, is critically important. It is also your fundamental right to be treated in any disciplinary procedures with respect and given proper representation, in line with all other employees in Ireland. If best practice is not present it compromises safety. That is precisely what happened here in Kilkee.
“And because of the breach by the Department of Transport, the deliberate breach, of European and International law, confirmed by the CJEU Judgment of 09 July 2020, the Kilkee investigation was not carried out correctly. Multiple witnesses were not listened to. There were so many errors in the MCIB Report, as confirmed by Marine Hazard Ltd’s Report of 04 January 2021, that the investigation needs to be re-opened immediately.”
Source: Press Release