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‘Mindless thugs’ risked people’s lives in Galway by dumping 15 lifebuoys


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

‘Mindless thugs’ risked people’s lives in Galway by dumping 15 lifebuoys ‘Mindless thugs’ risked people’s lives in Galway by dumping 15 lifebuoys

From the Galway City Tribune – The ‘mindless thuggery’ behind the theft of 15 lifebuoys in the city risked the lives of countless people.

According to Arthur Carr, founder of Claddagh Watch – the organisation which carries out nightly patrols of the city’s waterways – the theft of lifebuoys was an ongoing issue, but the loss of 15 in the space of two nights just after Christmas was unprecedented.

CCTV footage captured between O’Brien’s and Wolfe Tone Bridges shows a number of male youths travelling by e-scooter throw several of the lifebuoys into the water, the Galway City Tribune understands. Mr Carr said Claddagh Watch volunteers had been left shocked and dispirited by this “senseless” behaviour.

“Thankfully, [City Council Warden] Cora Kelly was really quick to respond and we were able to get the 15 replaced,” he said.

“But I just don’t understand the mindset of the people doing this. Our volunteers are constantly aware of the neared lifebuoy to them and if an emergency situation arises, you only have seconds to react.

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“It’s a simple tool, but the most important and if you go to get a lifebuoy and it’s not there, it could cost someone their life,” continued Mr Carr. He said Claddagh Watch’s volunteers had been out all over Christmas and had “de-escalated a number of situations” over the New Year’s weekend – and even then, they discovered that the ropes had been stolen from some of the lifebuoys at Spanish Arch.

“If something were to happen and you had to rush around to find a lifebuoy because the nearest one is gone, lives would be lost,” added Mr Carr.

Cllr Níall McNelis, who is Chairperson of Claddagh Watch and of the City Joint Policing Committee, said Gardaí were investigating the theft of the lifebuoys over Christmas.

“This is mindless thuggery and those who did it need to be held to account. The problem at the moment is the legislation to punish this type of crime isn’t strong enough, but there is a Bill going through the Oireachtas to make it a more serious offence,” said Cllr McNelis.

“I just cannot understand why anyone would do this. These are young people who have been educated in the importance of lifebuoys. It’s written on each one of them that ‘a stolen lifebuoy is a stolen life’.

“If an accident happens and someone falls into the Corrib – the fastest flowing river in Europe – you only have seconds to react,” he continued.

Praising the Council warden and Claddagh Watch volunteers for their swift action to replace the stolen equipment, he said members of the public had also reported the thefts.

“When people see this happening, they need to follow the instructions on the lifebuoy boxes and report it without delay. Three of the stolen buoys washed up on Dead Man’s Beach and they have been taken in to be used if any more are to go missing.

“I would appeal to anybody who has information on this to come forward to the gardaí because the people who are doing this need to be taught a lesson,” said Cllr McNelis.

“Maybe they need to be brought on a patrol of the rivers. If they knew how terrifying a situation it is when someone enters the water, they might think twice about their actions.”

(Photo by Andrew Downes, Claddagh Watch Patrol’s Paul Gibney, Cllr Niall McNelis and Arthur Carr on the banks of the Corrib).

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