Two ringbuoys at the old railway line between Rochestown and Passage were set on fire and burnt recently, making them unusable in the event of a rescue operation.
A STOLEN lifebuoy is potentially a stolen life, according to Cork County Council’s water safety development officer Caroline Casey.
Ms Casey has asked that the public “refrain from that type of behaviour” as it’s potentially putting lives at risk.
John Leech, Irish Water Safety CEO said people must be reprimanded for such mindless acts of vandalism.
“A stolen ringbuoy really is a stolen life,” and when someone steals or damages one that is needed to rescue someone, they can be “literally contributing to a death,” Mr Leech said.
He said the incident reinforces the need to implement the Life Saving Equipment Bill 2017, proposed in the Seanad last month - the Bill would make it an offence to damage or steal pieces of life-saving equipment such as lifebuoys.
Senator Keith Swanick proposed the Bill and he has launched an online petition at Change.org asking people to support that proposal.
There are just a couple of weeks left to sign it the petition, which has gathered more than 11,000 signatures so far.
Helen Walsh from Cork signed the petition saying: “This could save lives. And who knows, maybe it'll be my life, or the life of someone I love. Sick of seeing the reckless destruction and blatant lack of respect for lifesaving equipment.” If passed, the Lifesaving Equipment Bill would see fines of up to €50,000 incurred or jail sentences of up to five years given, if convicted for damaging or stealing a lifebuoy.
A risk assessment undertaken in Passage West a few years ago identified a need for a lifebuoy in the area.
Both Cork city and county councils spend thousands of euro every year replacing damaged or stolen lifebuoys. It is estimated that 5% of Cork County Council’s 1,400 lifebuoys are damaged over the course of a year, with vandalism responsible for 60% of incidents.
Annually, Cork City Council spends €15,000 replacing an average of 300 damaged or stolen life-buoys, at a cost of €50 per buoy, each year.
Of the 172 buoys it maintains throughout the city, 25 have to be replaced each month because of vandalism.
Stolen or vandalised lifebuoys can be reported online at www.ringbuoys.ie To sign the petition go to: https://www.change.org/p/oireachtas-support-the-life-saving-equipment-bill-2017