Unexpected VIP drops in on Wexford Marinewatch
WEXFORD'S Marinewatch volunteers got a real shock early last Tuesday morning when Taoiseach Enda Kenny came knocking following a chance encounter in a bar.
Marinewatch chairman Frank Flanagan said the volunteers were just packing up for the night at their base on the Quays during the early hours when Enda Kenny, his entourage, a detective and a garda turned up unannounced.
He said two volunteers - Linda Mc Loughlin and Jon Gethings - had been down at the Talbot Hotel for a tea break in their hi-viz gear earlier on Monday night, where the Taoiseach had been meeting Wexford Fine Gael members, when the Taoiseach saw them and asked them which emergency service they represented.
'They then got talking to the Taoiseach and he became very interested in Marinewatch. He had never heard of it.. they left and that was that,' said Frank.
'Then, at about 12.45 a.m. he turned up at the base just as they were locking up.
'It wasn't political, he wasn't electioneering, he was genuinely interested and never even mentioned the elections,' said Frank, 'he was very interested in the set-up and couldn't believe that we didn't receive any funding and was very impressed that the people of Wexford fund it themselves.'
Frank said that as a result of the impromptu meeting, he left a contact number for his office to see if there were potential avenues for funding.
'He was given a full tour and a detailed explanation of how we intervene with those in difficulty. He was also shown the various rescue devices used by the organisation and how they work,' said Frank.
'We gave him statistics of not only how effective our patrols are, but also how generous the people of Wexford have been to make it all happen. Enda was very impressed with the set-up and the level of support from the community - not to mention the statistic of saving 63 people from possible suicide in just three years.
'Marinewatch have a policy of not getting involved in Politics and have no affiliation to any parties whatsoever - however it was nice to see the Taoiseach of the country take a keen interest in what we do and give us credit for the hard work we have done to date.'
'It was also an opportunity to show him first-hand why we need 24-hour acute mental health services in every county in Ireland,' said Frank.