Thursday 22 February 2018

Lifeboat crew seeks safe pontoon

Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

The country's second busiest coastal lifeboat station is still without a safe boarding platform while plans are going ahead for multimillion euro leisure developments around it.

Dun Laoghaire lifeboat answered more than 50 calls for rescue and body search and recovery last year but is still without a pontoon required for crew to board, and safely take ashore, injured people.

Sources say it would cost just €200,000 for a pontoon which crew could use to board the lifeboat directly from shore, saving vital minutes in response time. The crew of 26 volunteers still use a motor tender to take them to the lifeboat from the station beside the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire.

Four years ago, one crewman fell and broke his arm while boarding the lifeboat in rough seas. When bringing injured people ashore the lifeboat crew have to use the National Club's pontoon, which is often packed with leisure craft during the busy summer sailing season.

But at the same time that lifeboat needs better facilities, plans are going ahead for multimillion euro developments including a heated swimming pool and a cruise liner berth in the harbour.

Costs for dredging the harbour and building facilities for cruise liners are tentatively put at €18m. A 'floating beach' and heated pool jointly proposed by the Harbour Company and local council was recently given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanala at an estimated cost of €2.75m.

Dun Laoghaire lifeboat may be the longest continuous serving station, having been established in 1802 in nearby Sandycove Point. It suffered its worst tragedy when an entire crew of 15 were drowned on Christmas Eve 1895 trying to save the passengers and crew of the stricken SS Palme which was blown ashore at Seapoint.

Sources say there is 'bewilderment' that plans are going ahead for multimillion euro leisure investments while the lifeboat is left without necessary facilities.

"There is resentment. All the crew, bar one full-time member, are volunteers. They sleep with their clothes ready to throw on to go out and save people," they added.

Last year in Ireland, RNLI lifeboat crews launched 1,089 times and rescued a total of 1,414 people. Dun Laoghaire launched 56 times and brought 55 people to safety.

Sunday Independent

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