Saturday, 18 December 2010

Bangor: Save the Maritime Search & Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Northern Ireland

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  1. The only Co-ordination Centre in N.I. must remain.
  2. Local Knowledge of SAR Professionals is essential.
  3. Over 1150 people assisted or rescued this year alone!

Troubled Waters
Ballycastle Chronicle
Thursday, 16 December 2010

Bull point Rathlin as viewed from the McHenry Farm Ballintoy.

Local people have reacted angrily to the news that Northern Ireland's only Coastguard control base could be closed as part of public spending cuts.

The Bangor centre is one of 19 across the UK which could face major changes under Government cut-backs.

The news was described as 'worrying' by Ballycastle boat-owner and Community Rescue Service member Chris McCaughan.

He has seen Coastguard presence in Ballycastle diminish from 24/7, full-time cover and said these further potential cuts are coming at a time when North Coast waters are busier than ever.

He said: "Any sea-faring people will be very worried when they hear about such closures. There used to be a great Coastguard presence in Ballycastle with 24/7 coverage and bad weather watch at Torr Head and Rathlin Island but that is all changed now.

“Everything is radio linked now but you cannot beat having the coverage on the ground or at sea!

“We have more sea traffic around Ballycastle than ever before so more cover and a dedicated boat is what we need.

“The fact is now there is more action and less of a presence than ever before."

Chris, a former auxiliary Coastguard Watchman in Ballycastle said it was sad to see the service provided by the Coastguard being 'run-down' as he described it.

“You can't beat local knowledge and people on the ground. Everything is subject to cut backs now and that is very sad."

The Coastguard headquarters in Bangor runs operations from Lough Foyle to Carlingford Lough and has dealt with more than 700 incidents so far this year.

Other related stories:

BBC: NI coastguard centre could close

UTV: NI coastguard station faces closure

Belfast Telegraph: Safety fears over coastguard cuts

News Letter: Closure threat to NI coastguard centre

Soteria UK and Soteria Ireland: Privatised helicopter search and rescue services

Scotsman: New £7bn [Soteria] helicopter rescue service on hold