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Saving Malin Head Coast Guard Station 12.02.08

MALIN HEAD is not only Ireland's most northerly spot, it's a centre of marine, weather and aviation communications.
The proposed closure of the Coast Guard Station, coupled with plans to automate the Met Éireann Weather station and the axing of the area's only public bus service last year is all adding up to make it Ireland's most northerly blackspot.
Dara O'Malley Daly. Malin Head Coast Guard Station watch officer Dara O'Malley Daly from Ballyshannon said losing the station would have a knock-on effect for future generations.
"I think people need to realise that losing the Coast Guard is like losing an industry in an area. How can we attract other companies if we lose the Coast Guard? We have a decentralisation plan for Buncrana. But how can we expect people to decentralise to Buncrana when we
are actually taking people out of Inishowen at the same time?
He said few communities in Ireland had such a strong maritime history.
"The extent of the marine knowledge is vast here in Malin Head. All the people have been at sea, either in the merchant navy or on fishing boats and the last six entrants coming into the job have actually been involved in the fishing industry both in Greencastle and in Killybegs.
“They would have been fishing all along the coast of Donegal and down the west coast and when someone gets into difficulty and they mention an headland or a rock, these people know where they are."
Michael (Doc) Doherty who owns the Seaview Stores and Seaview Tavern said the loss of the Lough Swilly bus service was being felt.
"Losing the buses has been a big loss because we don't have any public transport in and out of the area anymore. Consequently, businesses like the hostels are feeling the pinch because many
Malin Head businessman, Michael 'Doc' Doherty.
who come to stay with them have no transport other than thumbing or a bicycle. This has a knock-on effect on our place because these people won't be able to come for food now.
“And closing the Coast Guard is just another example of an important service being taken away from the area and being centralised back towards Dublin.
This will be a huge loss because those workers use the shops and the restaurants and other local services.”
Margaret and Rodney Lockwood fear backpackers can't get to their hostel due to the lack of a public bus service. Meanwhile, Rodney Lockwood who runs the Sandrock Holiday Hostel with his wife Margaret is concerned about the future. "Things have deteriorated in the past year. A few years ago we had promises that they were going to enhance the radio 
station rather than close it down and then on top of that, the weather station is supposed to become automated and the people there will lose their jobs. All these people help to keep the local economy going.
“The loss of the bus service has affected our business in that the backpackers who travel by bus, just can't get to us without hitch-hiking or paying for a taxi from Carn.” Margaret Lockwood says the Coast Guard station has become one of the local tourist attractions. "Apart from the serious issue of people losing their work, we have quite a lot of people staying at the hostel who go and visit the station because they're interested in that kind of thing. It's an historical part of the locality and it's important it stays,” she said. A meeting to discuss the closure of Malin Head Coast Guard is scheduled to take place today in Dublin between Transport Minister Noel Dempsey, Inishowen Development Partnership co-manager, Andrew Ward and local marine expert Seamus Bovaird.
To see more images of Malin Head click here .
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