Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth says a new Bill will bring forward strict new measures to crack down on people stealing and vandalising life-saving equipment in towns, villages and recreational areas across the country.

The Life Saving Equipment Bill 2017 is currently being drafted and will include a specific new offence of interfering with life-saving devices such as defibrillators and lifebuoys, with strict penalties including custodial sentencing of up to 5 years.  A penalty of -up to €50,000, will also apply for those convicted of the offence.

Deputy Smyth commented, “Every year devices such as defibrillators and lifebuoys save people’s lives and they are essential pieces of equipment for communities across Cavan and Monaghan.  Local responder teams in the two counties are trained up in the use of these devices so that they can react to emergency situations.  However, in recent years there have been a number of incidents where this essential equipment has been stolen, vandalised and damaged.

“Over the past number of years, we’ve had defibrillators stolen from the Clontibret GAA grounds, St. Mary’s Church in Clonaphillip, Cuchulainn’s Sports Complex and the community hall in Cross in Cavan.  There have also been incidents at a number of lakes whereby lifebuoys and life rings have been removed from their posts at lakes.  This problem is not just confined to Cavan and Monaghan – last year Cork City Council had to replace three hundred lifebuoys because of theft or damage.

“These are serious offences, with potentially devastating consequences and there needs to be a stronger deterrent to stop carrying out these malicious acts.

“This Bill does just that – the decision to include a custodial sentence sends a clear message that these crimes will not be tolerated.  I am hopeful that the legislation will receive cross party support when it comes before the Seanad in the coming weeks”.