Saturday 19 August 2017

Four middle-aged men steal boat and drive 'in erratic manner' up and down Liffey, blocking shipping lanes

Gardaí speak to one of the men on the quayside (Photo: Tony Gavin)
Gardaí speak to one of the men on the quayside (Photo: Tony Gavin)
Gardaí speak to one of the men on the quayside (Photo: Tony Gavin)
Members of Dublin Fire Brigade River Rescue recover a boat at the scene of incident on The Liffey at Dublin Port. Photo: Tony Gavin
Donal Petherbridge, District Officer Dublin Fire Brigade Tara Street who at the scene of a joyriding incident on a boat in The Liffey at Dublin Port. Photo: Tony Gavin

Alan O'Keeffe

Four men in a stolen boat sparked an alert at Dublin docks today.

The group of middle-aged men commandeered a small sail boat at Poolbeg Marina shortly before 6am.

They used the outboard motor to power the craft and take it out onto the Liffey where they went up and down the Liffey "in an erratic manner."

"But when they began to go into shipping lanes and interfere with the manoeuvring of a cruise ship that it got more serious," said Donal Petherbridge, district officer at Dublin Fire Brigade at Tara Street.

Members of Dublin Fire Brigade River Rescue recover a boat at the scene of incident on The Liffey at Dublin Port.
Photo: Tony Gavin
Members of Dublin Fire Brigade River Rescue recover a boat at the scene of incident on The Liffey at Dublin Port. Photo: Tony Gavin

"They appear to have been drinking and none of them were wearing life-jackets," he said.

Gardai, the Dublin Fire Brigade River Rescue Team, Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat, and the Coastguard all went into action in a bid to bring their escapade to a safe conclusion.

Gardaí speak to one of the men on the quayside (Photo: Tony Gavin)
Gardaí speak to one of the men on the quayside (Photo: Tony Gavin)

The four boating buccaneers taunted the emergency services as they joy-rided up and down the Liffey and in and out of shipping lanes east of the Eastlink Bridge.

A big cruise ship was delayed as the craft sought to thwart attempts to corral it to a quieter part of the harbour.

As emergency personnel manned quayside and bridge locations, the lifeboat crew sought to get closer to the boat. The lifeboat was unable to go underneath the Eastlink Bridge and the Dublin Fire Brigade rescue team's boat pursued the joyriders up and down the Liffey.

"These were not young men. One of them was certainly no spring chicken and appeared to be aged in his 60s," said Mr Petherbridge.

Two of the men managed to get off the boat and flee when it stopped briefly at a quayside and another bounded up the steps on the south quays as the fourth man continued to operate the stolen craft.

Finally, the fire brigade team successfully corralled the boat at steps at Sir John Rogerson's Quay where the man gave himself up to gardai. Before his arrest, he managed to strip naked on the quayside in full view of bemused motorists and emergency workers.

"We were acting for their own safety. The Dublin Fire Brigade River Rescue Crew carries out 120 rescues a year.

"I've been with the fire brigade for 31 years but this incident takes some beating," he said.

A garda spokesman said the four men "took a small pleasure craft" without the consent of the owner shortly before 6am.

"One of the men was arrested later," he said.

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