An Irish Coast Guard unit was disbanded following the resignation of six volunteers.
The Doolin Coast Guard unit in Co Clare has not been tasked with any land or water incidents since Monday. Other units and agencies are on standby for coverage calls.
The Doolin Coast Guard Team is a unit of the Irish Coast Guard and provides services such as cliff climbing, boat and land search teams.
An Irish Coast Guard spokesperson confirmed operations were “suspended” on Monday evening and said: “Doolin Coast Guard unit was suspended from operations last night.”
Inis Oirr’s coastguard unit, which reports directly to the Doolin unit, will remain fully operational.
The spokesperson explained: “In the meantime, the (Irish) Coast Guard is liaising with other SAR responders in the region to cover services that would otherwise be provided by the Doolin unit.
The Irish Coast Guard also acknowledged that divisions “have unfortunately existed within the unit for a number of years”.
The spokesperson added: “(The Irish Coast Guard) recognizes the hard work and leadership of many members of the unit, its management team in particular, and other stakeholders in addressing these challenges.
“Support (will continue to be offered) to all those affected by this event, and with the aim of strengthening the management structure of the unit, to provide relevant training and mediation services as needed and to deliver the unit in operational readiness as quickly as possible. . “
Representative association launched
The Doolin-based unit was struck by tragedy five years ago when Caitriona Lucas, 41, mother of two from Liscannor, Co Clare, was killed in an operation to search for a missing man in the sea off the cliffs near Kilkee on September 12, 2016.
She was aboard a rigid inflatable boat with two other Coast Guard members when the rib overturned, throwing the occupants into the water.
Last week, an association of Irish Coast Guard volunteer representatives was formed, five years after his death.
Ms Lucas was a very experienced volunteer with the Irish Coast Guard Doolin Unit while working with the Kilkee Unit.
The ICGVRA will be made up of current and former volunteers and was launched in Kilkee, Co. Clare on the bank holiday weekend following a commemoration in honor of Ms Lucas.
Ms Lucas was the first member of the Irish Coast Guard to die on duty. She was involved in a search operation near Kilkee before the Delta Rib she was in capsized.
Her husband Bernard had previously called for the creation of such an association to allow volunteers to express their concerns.
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In the summer of 2020, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) ruled that no criminal charges should be laid in connection with the incident after a report was forwarded to him by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).
The unpublished HSA report was one of two separate investigations. The second report of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) proved so controversial that it had to be published in two parts, and responses to the draft took longer than the report itself.
In a vigorous response, the Irish Coast Guard characterized the MCIB report as “flawed” and “misleading”, and argued that it was an “important step” in drawing broader conclusions on the safety standards on the basis of a “tragic accident”.
An autopsy identified trauma to the side of Ms Lucas’ head to a point where he should have been protected by his helmet.