There is progress for sail training in Ireland with a potential new vessel identified, a Fine Gael Senator has said. Dún Laoghaire Senator Barry Ward today (Thursday) raised the matter with the Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney TD and emphasised the importance of funding for a new sail training vessel in Ireland to replace Asgard II.
Senator Ward outlined the importance of sail training for people from diverse communities throughout the island of Ireland: “Sail training is a really important vehicle to introduce people to the marine sector as a sporting and employment opportunity for them. Asgard II provided generations of Irish people with a chance to experience sailing and being out on the sea in a way that they never normally would.
“Since Asgard II sank in 2008, there has been a gap in sail training in Ireland. It is high time that we put proper sail training back on track with a new tall ship, to allow people of all backgrounds to get on the water, to build a connection to the sea, and to feel what it is like to be on the sea all around this island.”
Paying tribute to the Atlantic Youth Trust, which has identified a 164-foot tall ship which could be used as a sail training vessel and is currently for sale in Sweden, Senator Ward called on the Minister and the Government to commit to proceeding with this vessel as a new sail training vessel for Ireland.
Responding to the Senator, Minister Simon Coveney stated his commitment to the project and confirmed that there was a generous offer in terms of the proposed tall ship. Minister Coveney said that the Government is “supportive of the principles of a sail training programme”; that officials had met with the Atlantic Youth Trust yesterday (13 October); and that funding for sail training through Sail Training Ireland will be provided in 2022.
Concluding, Senator Ward said “Ireland is an island country and we need to build opportunities for young people to be connected with the sea. This is a real opportunity for Ireland to put itself back on the sail training map with a vessel that will operate as a sail training vessel but would also be available for research, innovation, diplomacy and a range of other facilities to the State.”