Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government
Irish Water Safety: Chairperson Designate
Mr. Martin O'Sullivan:
As indicated, there are probably two areas. Clearly, one is the inland waterways and the message we must convey in that regard. One can look at cases of people who drown after going out on a lake in a small boat. Just a couple of days ago there was a near-drowning incident in Killarney lakes, where waves can be quite different from the type of waves experienced on a beach. In that particular incident, all of the people were wearing life jackets, so they all survived. That is the message. We have just started conveying that message through the media advising that with life jackets, the message is in the name - "life jacket". We will continue to try to convey to people that they should never be in or near the water without wearing a life jacket.
The other issue is fishermen, and the answer is the same. The number of drownings has reduced a little in recent years. Thankfully, it has improved due to wearing the life jacket. There was a time some years ago when fishermen simply did not wear life jackets. We used to run summer week programmes in places such as Castletownbere and when we looked at the classes we realised that they were almost all female because the boys were going fishing. That has changed and we have both boys and girls involved in learning to swim, how to self rescue and how to rescue other people.