A petition calling on the Galway City Council to put safety measures in place along the River Corrib has reached more than 20,000 signatures (as of Wednesday ). It was launched on change.org on Saturday in response to the disappearance of Robert Murray on Tuesday January 8.
Sita O’Driscoll who set up Make the River Corrib Safer - Let’s Save Some Lives petition says that people fall into the river on a regular basis, and living near the river she can hear the rescue helicopter searching for people frequently.
Ms O’Driscoll said; “I do not know the figures [but] we lose numerous lives in the River Corrib - one of Europe’s fastest flowing rivers. Some fall, slip in an often intoxicated state, others choose to get/jump in there themselves - but often it is a spur of the moment decision. There is no way out, no way back.
“Most cities around the world have safety ladders along rivers, so people can get out. The River Corrib has none, it is like falling into lava. People need to be able to get out if they fall and to be able to change their mind if they are trying to end their lives. Currently there is no hope of getting out.
“We need some safety measures put in place right now, enough is enough, too many lives have been lost prematurely. The kind volunteers that stand out on Saturday night are not enough. The situation is so bad, that people have to stand guard, in order to stop people. But that simply is not enough. Every year a lot of people die in this river, that needs to end.”
Ms O’Driscoll called for a number of measures to be put in place along the river including safety ladders every 10 metres; rope/bar along the side; CCTV along the river and bridges, sensors to detect if someone has fallen, and safety nets.
In response to the petition, a spokesperson for the Galway City Council said the local authority is working to address issues of safety along the River Corrib with a number of other public agencies, including the installation of three thermal water cameras along the river.
He said; “We [at the Galway City Council] are aware of the issues raised through the petition. A number of these issues are being addressed with other issues to be addressed. It is a multi-agency approach which involves ourselves at the council, gardaí, the OPW (Office of Public Works ), Fire and Rescue Service, and the Port of Galway as well as others.
“Three thermal water cameras are currently being installed at the river and these will be monitored by staff at Garda HQ day and night. These cameras will send an alert to if someone falls into the river. The Western Regional Drugs & Alcohol Task Force also has a Galway Safe app, which alerts users if they are in a situation like close to the river and will help users get quickly into contact with emergency services and other organisations who can assist. So we are taking measures, physical and mental, to prevent people from going into the river.”
The spokesperson also added that members of the public should also be aware that there is a Fire and Rescue Service station located on Fr Griffin Road and should they see someone in the water that it should be contacted as soon as possible as they can respond quickly due to the station’s proximity to the river.
As of Wednesday afternoon, gardaí have confirmed the search for Mr Murray is still ongoing.