Cllr Frankie Daly with the workers installing the buoy - after a public outcry Picture: Adrian Butler
LIMERICK City and County Council began the process to install lifebuoys on Sarsfield Bridge just three days after councillors were told it was not possible to do so.
There was public outcry in February after the initial stance of the council became public at a meeting of metropolitan district.
In a written reply to a motion from Cllr Sean Lynch, Brian Kennedy, a senior executive officer in the council’s economic directorate said the council was not allowed to attach “any fixture” to the bridge as it is a protected structure.
The meeting took place on February 20 and, according to documents released under Freedom of information legislation, on February 23 an email was sent to Mr Kennedy by senior executive officer, Christy O’Connor, asking if the matter could be progressed.
“The Mayor has given a commitment that the life belts would be put in place within a maximum 2 week period. Can you ensure that this is met and if possible that belts are in place next week at the latest,” he wrote.
The documents show there was some confusion initially as to whether one or two lifebuoys were to be installed on the bridge.
In an email to Mr O’Connor – dated February 27, 2017 – Mr Kennedy expressed concerns about installing a lifebuoy on the South side of the bridge.
“The parapet on the South side is narrower (than the North side) and if we put one there it will stick out and cause a hazard to pedestrians,” he said adding that he was of the view that just one lifebuoy had been requested by Cllr Lynch.
The matter was progressed over the following days and a Health and Safety plan drawn up ahead of the works which were carried out on March 1 by Speedline Engineering.
The cost of the works have not been disclosed.
Prior to the lifebuoys being installed, Tom Cassidy, Architectural Conservation Officer, issued a report under the provisions of the Planning and Development Act confirming the works “would not materially affect” the character of the bridge.
Sarsfield bridge which dates back to 1835 took 11 years to build.