Doolin Coast Guard unit carried out eight Cliffs of Moher searches in 2011

 

THE DOOLIN unit of the Irish Coastguard Service conducted eight searches last year for people who went missing off the Cliffs of Moher.

Unit officer Mattie Shannon said yesterday that the unit recovered six of the eight bodies.

He said: “The recovery of a body for a family bereaved is as important as finding someone alive. It brings no closure for a family if a body is not recovered.”

The Samaritans have erected signage at the Cliffs of Moher providing a helpline for those considering taking their own lives while director of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre Katherine Webster said yesterday that staff at the 600ft-high cliffs have all received training for suicide intervention.

“While the Cliffs of Moher is a very happy place for most people, it has an aspect that has a sadder side,” said Ms Webster. “There is a little memorial garden in place at the southern end of the cliffs for those who have lost their lives off the cliffs”.

A spokesman for the Clare Samaritans said yesterday: “I honestly don’t know if having the signs at the cliffs has made any impact. When people are in that frame of mind, I don’t know if they would see the signs.”

The spokesman said that the installation of a special phone at the cliffs with a direct line to the Samaritans in Ennis could be considered.

The spokesman praised the work of the Doolin rescue unit. “They work in very difficult conditions where their task is mainly one of recovery,” he said.

The unit is one of the busiest in the State and Mr Shannon confirmed that they had 45 call-outs last year.

Mr Shannon said five of the searches for bodies missing were protracted with the unit failing to recover the body of a Spanish national and a Co Limerick woman who went missing in early December.

Planning permission was granted for a €2 million coastguard station for the unit in September 2010 but Mr Shannon said it is his understanding that funding would not be provided for the new station until 2014.

The provision of the station will end the practice by one of the country’s busiest lifeguard units of having to haul their boat by tractor 1½km to the coast in response to an emergency call-out.