Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil yesterday (October 18th) met the Minister of State for Transport Legislation and Maritime, John Hayes MP, to discuss concerns about delays in the MCA process of tasking lifeboats following a distress call.
Angus MacNeil MP said: “Twice this week, I tried to secure a temporary urgent question in Parliament which was unfortunately turned down by the Speaker. The Department for Transport was made aware and the Maritime Minister, John Hayes MP requested to speak to me.
“Mr Hayes assured me that he is “all over this like a rash” and that he will be investigating further. In the meantime, I am hoping that the Coastguard takes action to ensure that delays, as we have seen in various areas around the MCA’s UK coastline, come to an end.
"The checks, which can be lengthy compared to the urgency of a situation prior to tasking a RNLI lifeboat, can lead to people being left in cold water while waiting for a lifeboat that has yet to be tasked despite the alarm being raised.
“Speaking to RNLI crews, they would much prefer to be called out to false alarms than to be late on the scene at an emergency incident.
“An hour can mean an awful lot of difference to survival and can also result in a larger search area if there has been a tide running and people have been taken by the tide.
“The frank conversation I had with the Minister heartened me, he is serious about this and understands the gravity of the issue. We are of the one mind that things must improve.
“The Minister is trying to discern the nature of the problem and I hope that we will see improvements in the future, meantime I would hope that the MCA are urgently reviewing procedures and learning from MAIB investigations."