With the proposed shutting down of two search-and-rescue helicopter bases, Louise Ellman, chairman of the Commons transport select committee, has warned in a letter to Patrick McLoughlin that “despite compelling arguments these closures may cost lives”. She argued that the Government hadn’t listened to the views of people in planning their closure of RAF Boulmer and Portland.
On 15th/16th March this year a major international conference on search & rescue took place in Killiney, and was organised by the Irish Coast Guard, who had their own reasons for so doing – of which more in a moment. The conference brought together Coast Guard representatives from across Europe, along with a range of other search & rescue experts.
This is the first time that the conference had been held in Ireland. Dublin was chosen as a venue in order to mark the fact that Ireland is heading up the European Union Heads of Coast Guard and the Director of the Irish Coast Guards, Chris Reynolds, is currently chairing the organisation. Coast guard chiefs from a number of countries attended, including the UK and Sweden. Chris Reynolds was asked specifically to prepare the ground for a permanent Secretariat, manned by Coast Guard Officers from Member States, the EU Commission and various agencies and as this Secretariat will be meeting in Dublin later this year, Reynolds will be proposing that the Secretariat be based there on a permanent basis.
Of course it has to be remembered that Frontex will be involved somewhere in this proposed permanent Secretariat – and that matters maritime are a shared competence where the EU is concerned. Which rather begs the question whether the political class are prepared to take the heat of criticism for further cuts, rather than acknowledge the EU factor. Odd too, that Louise Ellman did not appear to acknowledge the EU factor – but I digress (again).