Lessons to be learned
THE death of coastguard volunteer Caitríona Lucas during a rescue mission in 2016 shook not just a community but the entire country. The mother of two children was searching for a missing man with two other volunteers when their rigid-inflatable boat overturned near cliffs at Kilkee in Co. Clare, and Ms Lucas died shortly after she was airlifted from the water by the Shannon rescue helicopter.
The impact of tragedy, however distressing, can be mitigated when lessons are learned and new procedures are implemented. The final report on the incident by the Marine Casualty Investigations Board is critical of the Irish Coast Guard, but it would be better to dwell on how it believes standards can be improved.
It recommends that the Minister for Transport should review the Irish National Search and Rescue Framework in relation to recovery operations and the criteria for tasking and launching Coast Guard boats. It also says the Irish Coast Guard must implement a comprehensive safety-management system and address all aspects of the management of the service, including the management of volunteers, their appointment and training.
Transport Minister Shane Ross says he will ensure all the recommendations are implemented. If Caitríona Lucas’s death is to have any meaning, he must hold good to that promise.