Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government
Irish Water Safety: Chairperson Designate
I thank Mr. O'Sullivan for attending before the committee and outlining his vast experience in the water safety sphere. I note he has already served as vice chairman of the board and I acknowledge his many years of involvement with Irish Water Safety with his colleagues on the board. More important, we should put on the record the work of the more than 4,000 volunteers who are continuously involved with water safety at many levels throughout the country. That should be acknowledged and continuously supported.
I take this opportunity to commend Irish Water Safety. I was involved in the development of the national lifeguard training centre in Tramore, County Waterford. Another one was developed in White Strand, County Clare. I presume the centres are very busy. I know from visiting the centre in Waterford that it is always busy. Can the chairperson designate tell us how the training centres have benefitted his organisation? Are more training centres of a similar scale needed?
Inland locations were mentioned in the presentation. Although I am from the coastal county of Waterford, I am conscious of the dangers, as mentioned, posed by rivers, lakes, canals and other waterways located around the country. Does the organisation intend to launch a programme that directly focuses on rivers, lakes and inland waters? How can the Oireachtas, local authorities or others assist the organisation in trying to improve safety in these areas?
My next question is on the budget available to Irish Water Safety on an annual basis and the staffing levels. I presume, like every organisation, it has limited resources. Can the organisation meet the demands placed on it with the current resources?
Mr. O'Sullivan mentioned a programme called the primary aquatic water safety, PAWS, in schools. I am a member of a school board of management and I know the school participates in the programme. What practical supports does the programme give to schools? Does the organisation subsidise swimming classes? Does it provide instructors? Does it issue swimming certificates? Will Mr. O'Sullivan expand a bit about that? He mentioned that there are issues around access to pools and involving more schools. Does the organisation plan to improve access for schools?