Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Health and Mental Health Dr. Keith Swanick has drafted legislation, which will introduce a new offence relating to the theft or damage of life-saving equipment such as defibrillators and lifebuoys.

Approximately thirteen people die every day from cardiac arrest.  Having a readily accessible defibrillator improves survival rates, however a number of these life-saving devices have been targeted by vandals in recent months.

Senator Swanick explained, “Locals in Arklow, Co. Wicklow were shocked and disgusted when, over Christmas, a group of men were caught on CCTV camera destroying a defibrillator in the town. Unfortunately this type of behaviour is not isolated and we need a much greater deterrent to ensure that people think twice before interfering with, stealing or damaging life-saving equipment.

“The Life Saving Equipment Bill 2017 is currently being drafted and it will be formally published shortly. The legislation, if enacted, introduces a specific new offence of interfering with life-saving devices, with strict penalties including custodial sentencing of up to 5 years. It is my intention to seek a penalty of up to €50,000, for those convicted.

“These penalties will apply to important life-saving equipment such as defibrillators and lifebuoys.  Every week approximately two people die in Ireland from drowning and a missing lifebuoy has regularly been cited. Cork City Council for example had to replace three hundred lifebuoys last year, because of theft or damage.

“This legislation that I am drafting is designed to allow the Oireachtas send a strong signal that there can be no tolerance for damaging life-saving equipment.  The Bill, will be brought forward during a Fianna Fáil Private Members Motion in the Seanad shortly, and I would like to thank the party’s Justice Spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan and Wicklow TD Pat Casey for their input.

“The decision to introduce a custodial sentence as well as a fine highlights the seriousness of these offences and demonstrates the need for a strong legislative deterrent to clamp down on these crimes”, concluded Senator Swanick.