herald

Friday 22 June 2018

Fianna Fail leads calls for 'strong deterrent' against thrill-seekers

People swim during the storm
People swim during the storm

There have been growing demands for a crackdown on thrill-seekers who put the lives of emergency workers in danger during extreme weather events such as Storm Ophelia.

Fianna Fail has called for a "strong deterrent" against reckless ­behaviour of the kind seen on ­Monday, when people were swimming and wind-surfing in seas whipped up by the hurricane-force gusts.

Party leader Micheal Martin has said it should be illegal to disobey the safety authorities' instructions under such circumstances.

Furious

Speaking in the Dail, Mr Martin said all parties should co-operate in bringing in legislation to prevent people taking undue risks against safety advice.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he shared the dismay of people about those who put emergency services personnel at risk with foolish actions.

Earlier, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy told Newstalk he was "furious" with people who went swimming during the storm. He said sanctions against such behaviour would be "worth looking at".

Fianna Fail TD Darragh O'Brien, for Dublin Fingal, told the Herald he intends to draft a new law within six weeks, aimed at posing a "strong deterrent" to those who engage in dangerous activities during national weather alerts.

He said that some of the behaviour on Monday was ­"outrageously reckless".

An existing 1997 law makes it an offence to recklessly ­engage in conduct that creates a ­substantial risk of death or harm to another person. It ­allows for a fine of around €1,900, or 12 months in prison.

However, Mr O'Brien questioned how often it is enforced and said he believes it needs to be strengthened or expanded.

The two-pronged approach he is considering would potentially increase the fines and would provide clearly-defined powers for gardai to issue instructions to members of the public in emergency situations.

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