Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Health & Mental Health Dr. Keith Swanick is introducing a new piece of legislation which will make it an offence to steal or damage life-saving equipment such as defibrillators and lifebuoys.

The Life Saving Equipment Bill 2017 imposes strict new penalties, including a fine of up to €50,000 and a jail term of up to 5 years for anyone convicted of interfering with life-saving equipment.

Senator Swanick commented, “Over the past number of months there have been a series of incidents across the country where defibrillators have been vandalised or destroyed.  This is completely unacceptable behaviour, which is putting lives at risk.  Research from the Irish Heart Foundation reveals that around 13 people die every day from cardiac arrest.  Defibrillators are vital in improving survival rates and we must ensure that these devices are protected against vandals.

“Similarly, a number of County Councils have reported problems with life rings and lifebuoys going missing at lakes, rivers and beaches.  Lives are being unnecessarily lost as a result of people stealing or interfering with these essential pieces of life-saving equipment.

“This legislation underpins the importance of these devices and will see a zero-tolerance approach to vandalism and theft adopted. This Bill will be introduced in the Seanad tomorrow and I am hopeful that it will receive cross-party support”.