Water chief is 'very, very concerned' over spate of drownings
Irish Water Safety (IWS) has expressed concern after two Irish children drowned in the space of just four days during foreign holidays.
IWS chief executive John Leech said the rate of drownings in Ireland, and those involving Irish citizens overseas, remained a matter of serious concern.
On August 8, Emmy Sophia Eckert (5), from Ballincollig, Co Cork, drowned in a tragic accident at a lake near Dessau in Germany while on a family holiday.
Just four days later, Avery James Greene (3), from Mallow, Co Cork, died after being found unresponsive floating in a pool in a complex at Cabo Roig on the Costa Blanca.
The deaths bring to four the number of Irish youngsters aged under 14 who have drowned this year.
Two died in Ireland while two have died at locations overseas.
"Clearly, we are very, very concerned," the IWS boss said.
"What is shocking is that, if you look at the statistics, we lose a classroom of children every 10 years.
"Around 30 children aged under 14 will drown on average every decade.
"We are hoping that the figure is declining and, in fact, the overall drowning statistics have been going down over recent years."
The IWS boss said the organisation was hoping that, for the first time in the modern era, drownings will drop below the 100 a year mark.
"Last year we had 103 drownings in Ireland which is the lowest since 1939," he added.
Ireland is currently around 10pc below the drowning rate for the same period in 2018.
"We are hoping to break the 100 mark this year, but one death is one death too many," he added.
Mr Leech pointed out that the effectiveness of safety campaigns and greater awareness of the dangers posed by water have resulted in the rate of drownings in Ireland being slowly reduced.
The 103 fatalities last year compared to a figure of 109 people drowning in 2017.
Some 123 people lost their lives in 2016, 133 in 2015, 126 in 2014, 110 in 2013 and 144 in 2012.
One of the worst years on record was 2007 when a total of 168 people drowned.