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E47k bill over hundreds of stolen buoys

DUBLIN City Council has forked out €47,000 to replace stolen or damaged ringbuoys since 2008, the Herald can reveal.

Some 1,117 of the city's buoys were stolen or tampered with, causing hundreds of waterways that pose the risk of drowning to be left unprotected.

The figures -- obtained by the Herald through an information request -- show that a ringbuoy is stolen or vandalised every 30 hours.

The news has sparked major fears, with councillors and safety groups pleading with the public to leave the buoys untouched.

Some 283 buoys have been stolen so far this year -- costing the taxpayer almost €12,000.

A further 289 buoys needed replacing in 2010, with 228 being stolen or damaged in 2009. A bill of €46,914 has been footed by the taxpayer over the past four years.

Irish Water Safety (IWS) -- the body responsible for promoting water safety in Ireland -- said Dublin is the worst affected area for vandalised buoys.

"Dublin being our largest city is the largest problem in relation to the removal and damage of ringbuoys as you have the river Liffey, Tolka, Dodder, Grand Canal and Royal Canal all converging on the city centre," according to chief executive John Leech.

IWS established the website www.ringbuoys.ie in June of last year which allows members of the public to report missing buoys.

The organisation says it carries out a "risk assessment" on the city's waterways "on a regular and ongoing basis" before making recommendations to Dublin City Council.

City Councillor Nial Ring said it is the responsibility of Dublin City Council and An Garda Siochana to ensure that buoys along dangerous stretches of water are "monitored and maintained regularly". He added: "So many families have been affected by drownings in this city over the past few years."

A Dublin City Council spokesperson said the issue of stolen or vandalised buoys has been raised with gardai.