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Fight intensifies to save Malin Coastguard 29.01.08

by Liam Porter, Inishowen Independent

THE closure of the Malin Head Coastguard Station would send out a signal that Inishowen is a place where jobs cannot be sustained and therefore must be opposed by everyone in the peninsula, it was claimed on Sunday.
At a packed meeting in Malin Head Community Hall attended by over 250 people from all over Donegal, Andrew Ward of Inishowen Development Partnership insisted that not only was the Coastguard Station vital for the safety of everyone on the water, its importance as a place of employment in Inishowen must not be underestimated.
Fine Gael Cllr. Bernard McGuinness addresses the large crowd at Malin Head Community Centre. “We need to be able to keep jobs here, we need the people of Inishowen to make that clear. If we allow this to happen what kind of signal will that send out from here. If we can’t keep these jobs how will we ever be able to create jobs up here?”
Mr. Ward said that Inishowen 
was steeped in maritime tradition and there would never be a better area to find people to fill jobs at this centre and he dismissed suggestions that problems with infrastructure should be a reason to move to the east coast.
“If there are problems with the electricity supply, then they should fix them. If they say there are problems with broadband supply to the area, I’d say then fix them. I mean if Malin Head can be used as a centre for the aviation authority why can it not be continued as a base for the Coastguard Station. If it is good enough as a base to keep the planes flying over Ireland safe then surely it should be good enough to keep our boats safe.”
The message coming loud and clear from the meeting was that there is no way the local community or indeed the coastal community in Donegal will accept the decision that could see jobs taken from the station in Malin Head and relocated to the east coast.  Fine Gael T.D., Deputy Joe McHugh outlines the state of the campaign.
Fr. John Joe Duffy who attended with a delegation from Arranmore Island to lend their support to the campaign, said the Minister’s plan was putting lives at risk.
“I have accused the Minister in the past of putting lives at risk and I stand over that because in England a similar policy of shutting down Coastguard stations began around 1998 yet in 2004 their Select Committee on Transport reported that there had been an increase in the number of deaths.”
He insisted that the importance of the Malin Head Coastguard Station was recognised all along the west coast and he assured those present that coastal communities would back the campaign to have the station remain open.
The meeting saw cross party and cross border support for the campaign with Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty, Fine Gael Councillor Bernard McGuinness and Deputy Joe McHugh, Fianna Fail councillors Rena Donaghey, Dermot McLaughlin and Marian McDonald and SDLP Assembly Member John Dallat all there to pledge their support to the campaign.
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