Belfast Telegraph

Cash boost for Coast Guard service

The Coast Guard's ageing fleet is to get two new vessels over the next two years, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has said.

Almost 4.4 million euro in funding will be also be allocated to the service for the coming year along with an annual grant of 150,000 euro to the RNLI, the minister said.

Mr Varadkar was speaking during a New Year's Eve visit to thank volunteers at the Coast Guard Station in Howth, Co Dublin.

"The Coast Guard performs an essential role all year round," he said.

"I would like to extend my sincere thanks to every member of staff and volunteer for their efforts during 2011.

"I would also like to express my gratitude to the families of all the rescuers who make it possible for the volunteers to provide this 24-hour commitment throughout the year."

Coast Guard director Chris Reynolds said the past year had been one of the busiest for the service since its foundation.

The Coast Guard responded to nearly 2,000 incidents during the year, resulting in 163 lives being saved and more than 3,300 people helped.

Its helicopters alone performed 551 missions during the year.

Mr Varadkar also confirmed that he has given the Office of Public Works the go-ahead to tender for a new Coast Guard Volunteer and Pollution Response Centre in Killybegs, Co Donegal.

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