LÉ Eithne should be turned into a Naval Museum

Senator Mark Wall
06 January 2024
  • The ship is a unique reminder of our industrial and naval heritage.
  • Department of Defence must commit to long term funding to preserve the ship.
  • Give the LÉ Eithne a new mission as an educational and recruitment tool for the Naval Service.

Labour Defence and Tourism spokesperson Mark Wall has called on the Tánaiste to reconsider plans to scrap the LÉ Eithne, and to look again at turning it into a museum and visitor attraction with dedicated long term funding so that it can also serve as a promotional and educational tool for the Naval Service.

Senator Wall said:

“The LÉ Eithne should not be scrapped and all efforts should be made to retain it as a museum and visitor attraction. This navy ship was our flagship and the largest in our fleet, the last to have been built in Ireland and it served for 42 years. The last thing that should happen is for it to be turned into scrap.

“I am calling on the Tánaiste and Minister for Defence Michael Martin to show courage and vision, and ensure the LÉ Eithne is kept and retained in it’s home city by committing to long term Departmental funding to preserve the last naval vessel built in Cork.

“The ship is an important reminder of our industrial heritage, being the last one to be constructed at the Verolme Dockyard in Cork in 1984, and unique in our fleet as a helicopter patrol vessel with a flight deck. It was the only ship of it’s class every built, and due to its length of service is a fitting tribute to generations of sailors who served in the Navy. It’s proud record includes a period serving in the Mediterranean rescuing migrants, and also as an international ambassador for Ireland travelling as far afield as Buenos Aires to mark the sesquicentenary of the death of Admiral William Brown, a Mayo born sailor who played a key role in the Argentine War of Independence.

“Reports yesterday in the Irish Times say that advice to the Tánaiste was against donating the ship to a museum as it would be too expensive due to significant costs possibly arising in the future to maintain it. This is not good enough for the Department of Defence to wash it’s hands of responsibility for the ship which has so proudly served our country.

“The State should be ensuring the ship is retained, and commit to providing a long term stream of funding to keep it in good condition as a museum piece. The future cost should not be left to a port or local council to meet but instead have dedicated Departmental funding.

“Now is the time to take this opportunity to give LÉ Eithne a new and lasting mission, as a recruitment and educational tool for the Naval service by creating a unique visitor experience documenting the history of the Naval Service and the rich industrial heritage of the port of Cork. Basing the ship as a museum attraction in the city it was built in, close to the Spike Island experience and Haulbowline, the home of the Navy would be a lasting legacy for Cork City, and the Naval Service.

“We have seen the Defence Forces struggle to recruit new members and Navy ships tied up due to lack of crews, so it’s now time for new ideas to address that recruitment and retention crisis. Turning LÉ Eithne into a museum would provide a window into the Naval service, and the proud role our sailors have played in protecting our waters, in rescue missions, as an Ambassador for Ireland, and in Cork City itself.

“The Tánaiste should step up now to ensure the ship is protected for future generations.”

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