LIMERICK City and County Council is to restore lifebuoys to the three bridges in the centre after a motion was unanimously passed this week.
Newly elected Fianna Fail councillor Sean Lynch called for the immediate restoration of the rings at the Shannon, Thomond and Sarsfield Bridges at the metropolitan area meeting.
The motion received cross-party support, and council official Eugene Griffin has vowed to ensure the lifebuoys are installed in the next month.
Cllr Lynch’s reason for bringing forward the motion came following a distressing incident which was recalled to him in the summer just gone.
“I met a man who informed me that it came to light that a friend of his was passing the Shannon Bridge and saw a man jump in. When this man had a change of heart, and shouted for help, this guy could not find a lifebuoy. Sadly the man was swept out,” he said.
This promoted the former garda sergeant to walk around the city to see what level of support there is for people making river rescues.
And he was shocked to discover that on the three main bridges, there were only lifebuoys at each end. This, he says, is useless when a rescue is being attempted.
Cllr Lynch said: “There is no point in trying to run to the quay to get a lifebuoy. There is no way you can throw them in from the end, it is too long a distance.”
He described the reintroduction of these lifebuoys “as a matter of urgency”.
He also called for widespread training in how to approach someone who might be contemplating suicide, saying often it is just asking the question as to how they are feeling which helps matters.
Sinn Fein councillor Séighin Ó Ceallaigh urged the council to hold information sessions around the problem of suicide.
Cllr Lynch also called for the council to investigate introducing bye-laws “to ensure those who steal, damage or interfere with the life buoys/rings be punished severely”.
Council meetings administrator Eugene Griffin said there are punishments available to this under the Criminal Damage Act 1991.
Mayor Michael Sheahan, who chaired the metropolitan area meeting, hailed Cllr Lynch’s contribution as “the most important motion of the day”.
He said third level institutions should be approached for financial and moral support.
Mr Griffin confirmed the council would look to have the life buoys restored by the time the metropolitan area councillors meet next month.
But Cllr Lynch hopes they are fitted as soon as possible.
“Time is of the essence on this,” he added.