March 31st, 2011
“As a norm, attendance by MPs at Westminster Hall debates is not particularly good, but that certainly could not be said of last Thursday’s debate on the modernisation of the Coastguard Service.
Instead, there were so many MPs present that not everyone had an opportunity to speak during the 3-hour debate. From Northern Ireland, both Jim Shannon MP and I were present and, between us, all the main arguments favouring the retention of our sole remaining Coastguard Centre in Bangor were made.”
Reflecting upon the intense debate during which every MP spoke passionately about his or her Coastguard centre, Lady Hermon concluded: “What was particularly striking was the Shipping Minister, Mike Penning’s, complimentary remarks about his visit earlier this month to Bregenz House. He described having had a ‘wonderful trip to Bangor’, where he had ‘a breath of fresh air’ with the submission of a brand new set of proposals from Bangor’s Coastguard.
Although the Minister emphasised that no decisions about closures had been made or would be made, until after the end of the consultation period on 5th May, Jim Shannon and I definitely felt much more encouraged by the tone and content of Mike Penning’s speech at the end of the Westminster Hall debate.
I’m convinced that the presentation of new proposals by our Coastguard staff in Bangor marked the turning point in the fight to retain N. Ireland’s Coastguard. We must now hold firm, and continue to win the argument.”
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