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Order of Business

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Senator John O'Mahony

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

I raise an issue relating to water safety, particularly regarding the protection of piers, slipways and harbours. We are at the peak of the summer season, with schools on holiday and tourism numbers at their peak. Tragically, over 140 people are drowned each year for various reasons. Some drown tragically and by suicide but that is not the point I want to make. We all remember the tragedy in Buncrana last April, when five members of the same family lost their lives. That highlights how easily an outing can turn to tragedy in seconds. Everybody would wish that such a tragedy would not happen and should never happen again. I understand the slipway in Buncrana has seen additional protection installed as a result of what happened. We should not have to wait for a tragedy for this to come about. There are thousands of tourists, particularly along the Wild Atlantic Way, who do not have local knowledge or know how easily this type of event can happen. In my county of Mayo, there are 700 km of coast and 78 facilities like those I mentioned. I happened to visit one a couple of weeks ago and saw with my own eyes how dangerous they can be if a person does not have local knowledge. These facilities are public by nature and generally open to the public and it is important that they remain public. Each council has a water safety development officer whose remit is to ensure risks are minimised, but I suspect it would be an impossible task to erect barriers, bollards and gates at every pier, slipway and harbour to prevent cars either accidentally or otherwise going into the water. I assume when additions, extensions and refurbishments are done, safety is taken into account. I ask that at some stage the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government is brought before the House to indicate the instructions to councils or the subventions made to carry out this work. We need to have it carried out before we see further tragedy.