SARChopperThe power of Facebook and the cross-party coming together of politicians on both sides of Leinster House has ensured that the 24-hour Coast Guard Search And Rescue (SAR) will be retained at Waterford Airport.
The 24,500 online signatories who vented their anger at the proposed cut in the SAR service from 24 hours to 12 by 2013 have claimed Minister Noel Dempsey’s U-turn as a victory for people power.
Meanwhile, local politicians have expressed their delight and relief that common sense has won the day after three weeks of intense discussion both regionally and in Dublin.
Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Kenneally, who had questioned the wisdom of the decision from the outset, was delighted to confirm the news following a meeting with Minister Dempsey on Tuesday afternoon.
“The Department of Transport had to back down in the face of intense, untold pressure,” he told The Munster Express.
“There was region-wide support on this throughout all political parties, and I’m proud that I and my Fianna Fáil colleagues, including Gary Wyse in Waterford, were at one on this, made our feelings known and did our bit to see this decision reversed.”
Deputy Kenneally also saluted everyone who had supported the campaign to maintain the 24-hour SAR cover for the south east and southern coastline.
“People often talk about politics being disconnected from the public, but I think this campaign has shown how people can make a very real difference when they come together and push for something passionately and intelligently,” he said.  
“The people of the south coast have saved this service and I hope this shows that there is still something to be said for political action.”
See The Munster Express newspaper for full story and photos.