'I had a premonition I would pull someone from the water' - Dempsey
Irish songwriter Damien Dempsey says he “had a premonition” he would pull someone from the water just two days before saving a man from drowning in Wexford over the summer.
The Dubliner was one of 35 people honoured for bravery in “dramatic near-drowning rescues” over the past year at Irish Water Safety’s National Awards Ceremony in Dublin Castle.
A total of 22 lives were saved in 20 near-death incidents through the bravery and quick-thinking of the recipients of the SEIKO Just in Time Rescue Award.
Dempsey said he "followed his instinct" when he got into the water at the River Slaney in Enniscorthy to help two swimmers who had gotten into difficulty.
He said he had dreamt of something similar in the days beforehand “so I knew what to do when it happened. I was ready.”
One man managed to swim back to shore while Dempsey waded out with a sheet from his tour van to tow the other back in to safety.
“I could see he had a spot of bother but I knew not to go near someone who is drowning if you haven’t got something to throw to them because they will drown you,” he said.
“They have the strength of ten men because they are dying of course so they will pull you down.”
The well-known activist also waded in to the Irish Water controversy and was disappointed not to have a face to face meeting with Environment Minister Alan Kelly, who had been due to present the awards,
He pulled out due to “an urgent unplanned meeting which he must attend.”
"I was hoping to talk to him about the privatisation of Irish Water. I would hate to see Irish Water privatised," Dempsey added.
"I think we need something in the constitution to make sure it never gets privatised so I would have liked to talk to him to him about that but maybe another time."
Roger Sweeney, of Irish Water Safety, warned we have "a big problem" in this country in terms of water safety.
“We have 135 tragic deaths. Preventable, avoidable tragedies every year and the key to reducing drowning’s even further and not relying on these rescues that occur is that education be prioritised,” he said.
“We really need more schools to take Irish Water Safety’s programme on board … People can drown for all sorts of reasons and the problem is drowning’s happen quickly, silently and in only a few inches of water.
“Supervision is such an important factor that people don’t realise how quickly you can drown and I suppose that is tragically reflected in the fact that 40 children aged 14 and under have drowned in Ireland in the last 10 years.”