Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, launched the new Water Training and Rescue Centre in Lahinch, County Clare, and appealed to people to be especially vigilant around water during the current hot spell.
Minister Humphreys used the visit to highlight the hazards associated with entering the water.
She expressed her deep condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives while out swimming or taking part in leisure activities in recent days.
The Minister commented, “it is deeply tragic that in the last number of days alone, three families have lost loved-ones through drowning. I can’t imagine the grief that these families are going through right now – and I think it’s fair to say that these events teach us all how precious life can be. My heart goes out to the families impacted – and there are no words that will suffice when you consider the devastation that has been brought on these families as a result of these tragedies.”
The new centre opened by the Minister in Lahinch will be used by life guards and volunteers to keep people safe while out on the water in Lahinch. It received €50,000 in funding under the Department’s LEADER Programme.
On the wider issue of water safety, Minister Humphreys stated, “it is of particular importance during the current warm weather that the advice of Water Safety Ireland is followed. This advice, on www.watersafety.ie, states how important it is to swim within your depth, try to only use lifeguarded waterways, never use inflatable toys on water, always supervise children and don’t mix alcohol and swimming. Our waters are an amazing resource. Yet in 2021, 80 people lost their lives to drowning. We need a greater awareness of the dangers presented by water, combined of course with developing swimming and life saving skills and the provision of safety measures, which centres such as this one in Lahinch will greatly help with.”
Minister Humphreys expressed her deep appreciation for the vital roles played by the Coastguard, emergency services, lifeguards and volunteers in keeping people safe and coming to the aid of those in danger.
The Minister continued, “we have a wonderful natural environment here in Ireland and it is essential that we know how to enjoy it safely and sensibly. I would also urge anyone to report damaged or missing safety equipment such as ringbuoys immediately.”
The Minister urged all those who are around water for either business or pleasure to enjoy our natural amenities, but to be careful at all times.
Separately, Minister Humphreys officially opened the new Lahinch Leisure Centre, which received €2.86 million under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund and €250,000 under the LEADER Programme.
The Minister added, “this new Centre is going to act as a huge tourist attraction for people heading to Clare and the Wild Atlantic Way this summer. And it will also lead to the creation of around 100 jobs. What is remarkable about this opening today is that this project in Lahinch was among the first projects in the entire country to receive funding under RRDF. So you have another small piece of history to be proud of here in Lahinch.”