Up to 150 life-saving lifebuoys are stolen, damaged or are thrown away by vandals in Galway City every year.
And it is costing Galway City Council some €4,000 every year to replace damaged or missing lifebuoys at the city’s beaches, canals, waterways and piers.
The local authority has confirmed to the Galway City Tribune that some €71,230 has been spent replacing damaged or stolen lifebuoys at 60 city locations since 2001.
During that 17-years period, the Council said 1,389 life-rings have had to be replaced. Some of them were replaced due to wear and tear but the vast majority were deliberately damaged or stolen. This figure does not include missing lifebuoys at 20 locations in County Galway that are looked after by the City Council.
A spokesperson confirmed that in recent years the Council is having to replace on average two or three of the lifebuoys every week, which is around 150 per year.
He said that as well as the financial cost of replacing lifebuoys, a lost lifebuoy could amount to a lost life.
“We have incurred a fair amount of cost in replacing damaged or stolen lifebuoys. There are three elements to it: the rings themselves, the ropes, and the holders. Paying about €4,000 a year to replace this equipment is excessive. Leaving aside the financial cost, damaging and stealing lifebuoys puts lives at risk.
“The lifebuoys are there for a reason and are strategically placed at waterways around the city so that if someone gets into trouble in the water, the lifebuoys can be thrown in to save them. I haven’t had any definitive reports that someone has drowned because a lifebuoy was missing but it is reckless behaviour to damage or steal life-saving equipment.
“A lifebuoy is something that doesn’t have to be used for several years and is there in case of an emergency and someone is in the water and needs to be rescued. Ideally that doesn’t happen very often but the lifebuoy needs to be there for times when it does happen.
“We would appeal to people not to damage or steal lifebuoys because you are putting people’s lives in danger. We would also appeal to the public to report to us if they see anyone damaging or stealing lifebuoys,” added the Council spokesperson.
Irish Water Safety at Long Walk said a stolen lifebuoy is a stolen life. It has urged members of the public to report missing lifebuoys at the website ringbuoys.ie and not to presume someone else has reported them missing or damaged.
Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.
Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.
The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.
“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.
“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”
Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.
“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.
The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools
Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.
“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.
“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.
A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
GMIT warns partying students they are delaying return to campus
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Partying students have been told their actions have impacted GMIT’s plans to re-start practical classes on campus – and Gardaí are monitoring the city’s bus and train stations to catch those breaking the 5km travel restriction by returning home for the weekend.
College authorities said the current “extremely serious outbreak” of Covid-19 among students in Galway City was caused by a small minority who are “moving and mixing between different households”.
Following a meeting with Gardaí last week, GMIT contacted all students to clarify that because there are no ‘onsite’ classes, there should be no need to travel for educational purposes.
“The Gardaí have notified us that there will be checks at the bus and train stations to implement the 5km travel rule, as well as checkpoints on the roads, and that fines will be given for any non-compliance with this rule,” students were told.
In a separate communication issued this week, the college’s Covid Officer appealed to students to abide by the rules.
“This outbreak has had an impact on our plans with regard to return to onsite practical work, with consequences for all students.
“We are appealing to all students to comply with all Covid restrictions and in doing so, to help ensure that those students who have to return to onsite practical work can do so,” the email read.
Many students from outside the city have opted to stay in their accommodation for access to better broadband.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more coverage of Covid figures and vaccinations, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.