Garda backing for Bill on safety equipment
Gardaí have given their backing to a new Bill which would make it a criminal offence to damage or interfere with lifesaving equipment.
Local councillor Tom MacSharry has also endorsed the Bill which is promoted by Senator Paul Swanick, Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Health who paid a visit to Sligo at the week-end to highlight the issue.
Cllr MacSharry says the issue has taken on a new significance in Sligo because of the number of people who have had to be recently rescued from the Garavogue River in the town.
Dr Keith Swanick's Bill is currently at its first stage in the Seanad. The Life Saving Equipment Bill 2017 would imposes strict new penalties, including a fine of up to €50,000 and a jail term of up to 5 years for anyone convicted of interfering with life-saving equipment such as lifebuoys and defibrillators.
Many liferings have gone missing along the Garaqvogue in recent years due to vandalism and have to be regularly replaced by the County Council.
Garda Ray Wims, Garda Representative Association spokesperson for Sligo Leitrim Division welcomed the proposed bill saying it was clearly is an area of high importance.
"Considering the recent four river rescues which was carried out by Garda members in Sligo over the summer, to tamper or interfere with lifesaving equipment can have deadly consequences.
"The Northern Regional branch of the GRA will also be calling for legislation governing all aspects surrounding attracts on front line public servants to be re-examined.
"The current legislation is an insult to nurses, ambulance paramedics, Doctors firefighters and Gardaí.
"We all see signs displayed in Hospitals that verbal abuse, threatening behaviour or physical violence will not be tolerated under the Equal Status Act.
"This is not sufficient protection for people working on the front line who are subject to attacks. We now try to police and protect a society that has to cope with levels of drug and alcohol abuse that was non existent when some of these laws were first drafted," said Garda Wims.