Minister Varadkar performs the official opening.

MINISTER Leo Varadkar performed the official opening of the new Goleen Coast Guard station where the first of the Coast Guard’s new Sikorsky S92 helicopters also held a fly-by on its first day of operation to mark the occassion.

Minister Varadkar said, “This is a doubly special weekend for the Coast Guard, as the first of its four new helicopters is now coming on stream, and the new Coast Guard Station in Goleen is being formally opened.

Goleen’s new coast guard station

“This Government is committed to the Coast Guard and we have protected its funding levels. As part of that commitment, the new Coast Guard helicopter will be based in Shannon and represents a stepped improvement in the search and rescue response.

“It can find vessels or persons in the water more efficiently, and return people to safety in the shortest possible time. I wish all of the crew and team in Shannon every success with the new aircraft.”

The Coast Guard has had a presence in Goleen since the 1800s, and responded last year to 14 callouts.

“This is a fantastic commitment to the community and I am delighted to have this opportunity to thank the 21 volunteer members for their dedication and hard work,” the minister added.

The Coast Guard’s new Sikorsky S92 helicopter also visited.

The Goleen Station is purpose-built and designed by the OPW to blend with its surroundings, and will be a vital facility for the Coast Guard unit.

Minister Varadkar paid particular tribute to the volunteer Coast Guard service and singled out the community around Union Hall, for their efforts following the loss of the Fishing vessel ‘Tit Bonhomme’ off Union Hall last January.