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Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Irish Coast Guard teams save 161 lives

Minister Leo Varadkar thanked the staff and volunteers at an event earlier today.

IRELAND’S COAST GUARD teams have said there was an eight per cent increase in the number of incidents they dealt with this year compared to 2011.

In fact, 2012 was the busiest year since the foundation of the Coast Guard, according to just-released figures.

Over the past 12 months, Coast Guard units and volunteers assisted 2,593 people, saving 161 lives.

Statistics show that there were a total of 1,963 incidents, well above the annual average. The ‘Lives saved’ category includes those people that would have been in all probability lost but for the intervention of the Coast Guard and its declared rescue resources.

The most significant incidents this year included the Union Hall search for five missing fishermen from the Tit Bonhomme vessel in January.

Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The bodies of all five men were recovered from the Cork harbour after a mammoth effort from the local community and rescue networks. All the crewmen that were aboard the vessel were accounted for.

Speaking at a training exercise in Howth today, Minister Leo Varadkar expressed his thanks to all the staff and volunteers across the search and rescue network.

State funding for the Coast Guard, RNLI and Mountain Rescue teams across Ireland is being maintained for 2013, noted the Transport Minister. However, he added that much of the cost is met by volunteers, of which there are 900 in the Coast Guard, 2,000 in the RNLI, 300 in community rescue boats and 500 mountain and cave rescuers.

Varadkar also confirmed that a major water safety initiative will be launched next year, including a publicity campaign, new safety signs at slipways and piers and a website. Following a review, the three existing marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centres will remain open. According to the Transport Department, this brings “certainty” to an issue that has caused much local concern in recent years.

Read: Woman airlifted from Glendalough coverage of the Tit Bonhomme tragedy>

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