Mayo based Fianna Fáil Senator, Keith Swanick, has called for cross-party support toward his Bill, the Life Saving Equipment Bill 2017. This Bill makes it an offence to steal or damage life-saving equipment such as defibrillators and lifebuoys.
Senator Swanick said: "As finer weather over the summer months moves in and students are off school, the numbers using our beaches, rivers, and lakes grow. While we should enjoy the beautiful beaches and lakes it is important to be mindful around bodies of water.
"Every year local authorities report the theft or damage to lifebuoys or life rings from our beaches, rivers and lakes. These scandalous acts are putting lives at risk and the punishment should be increased to warn off this reckless behaviour.
"It is chilling to read that last year 103 people drowned in Ireland. We are fortunate that over 300 people have been saved by lifeguards but other safety measures, such as lifebuoys, when not in place because of anti-social behaviour, can have fatal consequences.
"It is two years since I brought this Bill forward which seeks to make it an offence to steal or damage life-saving equipment such as defibrillators and lifebuoys. If passed, the Bill imposes strict new penalties, including a fine of up to €50,000 and a jail term of up to five years for anyone convicted of interfering with life-saving equipment.
"Since then a petition to support the Bill has secured almost 18,000 signatures - a clear indication that the appetite is there to bring in legislation to protect vital life-saving equipment. I am urging my colleagues from all parties and none to lend their support to this life saving Bill," concluded Senator Swanick.