Vandals Put Lives At Risk (01 Jul 2008)
Vandals Put Lives At Risk

Picture the scene. You're enjoying a family day out and suddenly realise that your child is in serious difficulties in the water and in danger of drowning. You race to the nearest ringbuoy stand only to find there isn't one because some idiot has stolen or smashed it. This may not be an everyday scenario but Irish Water Safety (IWS) is concerned about the level of vandalism being caused to lifesaving equipment around this country.

"We're seeing far too much interference and vandalism of these buoys. People are even using these ringbuoys in bonfires on beaches. The good thing is that the public are working with us on this. But we would encourage more members of the public to report incidents where they see people vandalising or interfering with this lifesaving equipment," IWS CEO John Leech told the Marine Times.

Lords of the Rings. Chief Executive of Irish Water Safety John Leech, centre, with children from Ventry national school during a water safety promotion event on Ventry Strand.

"Either take these vandals to task yourself or report them to the gardaí. We've had two convictions in recent weeks in relation to incidents where ringbuoys were vandalised. Those people were fined up to 200 and while people will say that's it's not severe enough it is a deterrent. Nobody wants to see their name in the paper for being found guilty of putting lives at risk. From the IWS point of view we're pleased enough to see action being taken by the gardaí," he said.

"As a society we have been too tolerant for too long with people who interfere with this equipment which is paid for by taxpayers money."

The IWS held a water safety conference in Dingle in early April. John Leech met with a group of children, from the local national school, on Ventry Strand.

"We have a primary aquatics safety programme in all primary schools and part of that is teaching children how to throw these ringbuoys. It's another life skill that they will be able to use later in life. If they ever come across somebody in distress in the sea, or a river or lake they'll know exactly what to do and how to throw that buoy to someone in trouble.

They also learn about all the hazards surrounding water and water activities. If we can teach them at this young age we're confident we'll see a greater reduction in aquatic injuries and drownings," John Leech explained.

Contact: Ted Creedon-Marine Times
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