Maritime lawyer calls for a “fundamental overhaul” of the “many mistakes” within the Irish coastguard system, as he highlighted allegations of harassment, intimidation and even suicidal ideation among volunteers.
Military lawyer Michael Kingston made the claims on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland after the resignation of Doolin’s volunteer coast guard unit, following the resignation of six volunteers.
Although Mr. Kingston made no reference to Doolin’s situation, he was concerned about a general situation that he believed the volunteers were going through.
“I don’t know what the problem is in Doolin at this point,” Kingston told RTÉ. “I don’t know why the unit was closed when there are capable volunteers. “
But Mr Kingston said he felt there was a “symptomatic” problem across the industry regarding volunteers.
There was, he said, a “litany of failures” regarding volunteer security and “global security”.
“There have been so many serious issues,” said Mr. Kingston. “He needs a root and branch examination.
“It’s pretty clear from what I’ve heard of the Irish Coast Guard issues, there are some very well meaning people in management and units in Ireland that are working very well.
“But… there are serious problems…. with many stories I have heard about harassment and bullying, some members with suicidal tendencies.
“When you hear these allegations, it is extremely serious… they must be dealt with.”
Mr Kingston also pointed to a recent annual report from the Comptroller and Auditor General which highlighted a delay in the use of night vision goggles, while rescue teams were also criticized.
He said there was a “problem” with the maritime decision-making with the way she investigated issues.
He also highlighted the passing of Caitriona Lucas, 41-year-old librarian and mother of two, and forward coxswain, who died on September 12, 2016, after offering to assist Irish Coast Guard Unit Kilkee in a search for a missing man.
Irish Coast Guard volunteer Bernard Lucas recently called for a new investigation into the cause of his wife’s death off the coast of Clare.
Mr Lucas had wondered why the investigation had not looked into alleged issues with personal locator beacons and other equipment issues.
Earlier this year, the Irish Coast Guard called a Marine Accident Investigation Board (MCIB) report on the incident “flawed” and “misleading”.
He said there had been a “big leap” in drawing broader conclusions about safety standards on the basis of a “tragic accident”.
The Independent.ie has asked the Department of Transportation for comment on the issues raised.