Corrib Water Safety Solutions Still Under the Spotlight

Galway Mayor Niall McNelis has said he is “extremely” concerned about safety features surrounding the Corrib in Galway City.

Mayor McNelis, alongside Council members, the R.N.L.I, Irish Search and Rescue, the Coast Guard and members of the Students Union, attended a private meeting to discuss growing concerns.

He urged the public to understand that the continued discussion is not a “knee jerk reaction” to the tragic deaths of the last two months. Rather, it is the culmination of years of planning in regards to safer infrastructure.

“What we have been doing over the last number of years, in a coordinated approach, is getting certain things done…I want to send a clear signal, we take this very seriously…It is not just a one off. This has been ongoing for the last number of years,” he said.

Mayor McNelis spoke of the issues surrounding obtaining permission for Thermal Imaging Cameras, citing GDPR issues as an obstruction to the project. “That’s over a period of nine years it has taken to get there,” he said.

The Thermal Imaging Cameras, funded by the Dept. of Rural & Community Development, will be placed in the Claddagh Basin and detect people who have entered the Corrib. An alert will be issued to an Garda Siochana and emergency services.

Cllr. Mark Lohan also spoke positively of this new initiative. “In the event that someone does go in the river, these infrared cameras can attract them and assist the emergency services in retrieving the casualty.”

Mayor McNelis stated “we are beginning to see results because of the huge amount of area that has been covered.” This is in reference to the improved surveillance of 60 km of water-way, that goes from Spiddel to Tawin Island.

He explained the next step in improving safety features will involve increased signage, better lighting and the establishment of a Corrib surveillance team. “Signage will direct people away from the river bank…we have to look into…extra lighting…and the possibility of setting up a river patrol.”

Cllr. Lohan spoke about the wider problem of suicide and mental health “We can’t make the river suicide proof…but we can look at the bigger issue of the increase in suicide and what services we provide to prevent that. Because walls and nets alone will not do it. We as City Council improve safety where we can, where it is possible…beyond that requires investing in our mental health services.” He said “there is a bigger problem here that requires a bigger solution.”

Mayor McNelis, an active board-member of Pieta House, echoed this statement. In regards to the mental health issue, he said “we’ve made huge inroads in recent years.” He urged people to “keep an eye on their friends,” stating we all must “figure out a way to make sure (things) are safer.”

Cllr. Lohan queried the responsibility of establishments selling alcohol. “Do they have a responsibility after they have emptied the pockets of a customer and they are in an inebriated state? Where does the responsibility begin and end? That’s a legal and moral question,” he said.

GetSafe, an app promoting safety around Corrib blackspots, is endorsed by Galway City Council, an Garda Siochana and Irish Water Safety and is available to download from the Western Region Drug and Alcohol Taskforce website.

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