A Bill introducing new offences for interfering with life-saving equipment such as defibrillators and lifebuoys has been welcomed by Mayor of Athlone, Aengus O’Rourke (FF ).
The Fianna Fáil Bill from Senator Keith Swanick was moved on July 5 in the Oireachtas. Following its introduction, Senator Swanick held a briefing for all Oireachtas members on the Bill for information purposes and in an attempt to gain cross-party support.
The key elements of the Bill include: introducing a new offence of interfering with, theft of or damage to a piece of life-saving equipment, such as defibrillators and lifebuoys; introducing a custodial sentence of up to five years for such an offence; introducing a financial penalty of up to €50,000; linking this financial penalty to income, social welfare, property, and inheritance.
Speaking on the issue, Mayor O'Rourke said: “Athlone man, Cathal Joyce of HeartTalk, was among those who spoke on the importance of life-saving equipment and consequences of damage or theft to such equipment. Cathal’s life was saved by an Automated External Defibrillator when he suffered a cardiac arrest whilst playing soccer.”
“Strict penalties are needed to act as a deterrent to ensure that such equipment is there when it is needed," Mayor O'Rourke added. "Here in Athlone, it is important that along our river, canal, and lake shores the life-saving equipment provided by the local authority is not interfered with or vandalised. I welcome the introduction of this new Bill and hope it makes it to legislation soon."