Let the people decide if Irish Seal Sanctuary to close?
Is the Irish Seal Sanctuary still “fit for purpose” in face of growing and commercial competion? Will commercial operators provide inclusive and comprehensive public services throughout loss making sectors and areas? Can commercial operators replace the skills, experience, science, networks, credibility and support enjoyed by ISS? Over 30 years the non-commercial ISS provided free and open access to the seals in their care and free and supported internships and engagement for volunteers…can the commercial operators allow the public free access to their local wildlife.
The Irish Seal Sanctuary (ISS) has a long and distinguished record, pioneering wildlife rescue and rehabilitation in Ireland, having directly assisted over 1000 seals and innumerable other distressed wild creatures over 30 years.
A few exceptional donors apart and without government assistance, the ISS has survived and thrived largely on the support of children and the public.
From the beaches and its core activities with seals, ISS expanded into education, research, advocacy and representation for marine at the highest national and international level. Students, Interns, Researchers from all over the world came to volunteer and work with the ISS, founding Ireland’s reputation as a centre of excellence and leader in this field. This opportunity is yet to be grasped by government. Altruistically the ISS has established and assisted the development of further facilities and capacity for seals and protection of marine environment; in many ways making it victim of its own success as commercial operators moved in on revenue generating activities.
The ISS has suffered difficult times over these last three years as resources went elsewhere bringing collapse of its fortunes, membership and fundraising base. As others folded however the ISS persevered and worked tirelessly to sustain and restore rescue and rehab capacity nationally and assist others to their feet and engage new and novel partners. If it could not save itself it would save the work!
The ISS is most grateful for the help extended by some these new partners, long standing among them UCD Veterinary School and more recently Fota Wildlife Park, Taytopark, Secret Valley and others. ISS frontline volunteers and 1st Responders re doubled their efforts to sustain responses and provide fostering facilities.
Austerity and the misfortunes of a few years poor stewardship could not take from the record or demoralise core workers sustaining core activities and core values to this day.
Over the last 12 months the ISS Directors have restored capacity and saved the “non-commercial company” and it has been this twinning of volunteerism and charity over 30 years that has always been engine of ISS success. Its work is now established coast-wide, according to its founding principles (the widely recognised 3 Rs: Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Release).
However, the ISS is now itinerant, homeless and operating by “flying column” approach; under-resourced and funds so dissipated, directors are now compelled to regretfully consider shelving or dissolution of the company in a November 2nd EGM unless, by then ISS has found a new independent home, from which to recover and continue it’s public service.
A Home for the Sanctuary by November is now key to its ongoing involvement, sustaining and developing its central role and sharing the benefits. If this can not be achieved by November 2013 the Directors will relinquish ISS Charity status and liquidate the “not-for-profit” company, so central to its role and the community and voluntary network coast wide.
The Board of Directors of the ISS invite any support or assistance to secure a Home for the ISS in the time allowing avoiding closure. Remaining ISS funds will be strategically deployed over intervening and following months to sustain and develop rescue capacity and support coastwise in either event or outcome. Brendan and Mary Price, founders of ISS, who have given a lifetime’s voluntary service and other long serving volunteers, will continue to advise and assist others, where needed . Whether liquidated or ceasing to trade till a new home is found, founders and supporters will continue by their own resources and patrons to provide advisory and advocacy services. The ISS name will live on and a board re-convene once a home or funds for a home have been provided
The Future of the ISS, as so often has been the case before is now in the people’s hands and they have never disappointed….they may now decide whether there be a future for the ISS or it has served it’s purpose. Whatever the outcome in November the ISS has left a legacy that will ensure the work live on sometime yet. When a beach walker makes that phone call from a lonely part of the coast in Winter seeking assistance with a seal pup, there will be someone to respond.