A third of all Coast Guard stations and buildings around the country have no basic facilities such as running water or bathrooms.

A senior Irish Coast Guard officer told The Irish Times his search and rescue team is forced to use “the nearest fence” for a toilet despite a 15-year fight for rudimentary upgrading.

The seven main stations without any basic facilities include Cleggan in Co Galway and Ballyglass in Co Mayo.

Figures released by the Department of Transport show 19 of the 58 Coast Guard stations and sub-stations dotted along the State’s shores are without running water, bathroom facilities or access to the internet.

The department – which itself describes the Coast Guard as Ireland’s “fourth blue light” emergency service after the ambulance, fire brigade and Garda – said 10 of the stations are sub-units or secondary buildings to a main Coast Guard station.

Michael Hurst, officer in charge of Ballyglass Coast Guard station, which played a key role in the search for the Rescue 116 disaster victims last year, told the paper his 20-strong volunteer team deserves better.

“The station is just a building with an insulated roof, it has some heaters in it, and our radio equipment and pager,” he said. “We have to go to an outside tap at the pier for water, we have no fridge or anything.”

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