Council asked to step up efforts to provide base for river rescuers

Limerick Treaty Suicide Prevention volunteers

LIMERICK City and County Council has been asked to do all in its power to provide a base for local volunteer groups to store equipment near the River Shannon.

The call came from Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan who said that the need was particularly urgent for the  Limerick Treaty Suicide Prevention group  who were in desperate need of even a temporary premises.

“Too often late at night or early in the morning the sound of the helicopter propellers is heard over the River Shannon. Too often this the signal that another life has been lost to suicide. This sound would be ever more familiar if it was not for the selfless work of the brave volunteers of our riverside suicide prevention teams,” Deputy Quinlivan explained.

“These teams should have a base available to them as a priority. As it stands, life saving and expensive equipment is either carried by the volunteers or stored in near by cars. Should the volunteer storing the equipment be unable to make it on a particular night, there is a scramble to ensure that the equipment can be transferred.

Having a secure base, near the water, would allow for such equipment to be stored safely, securely and crucially near to where the emergency is occurring.

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The Sinn Féin Deputy went on to highlight the importance of such a space for both the wellbeing of the volunteers and those they encounter while on their patrols.

“The volunteers of the suicide watch groups encounter people who often are at their most low. Sometimes, they deal with people who have entered the water and more times they are able to intervene before someone gets to that stage. It can be difficult for those people who need support to be comfortable on the side of the river while there may be curious passers-by gathering to see what has just occurred.”

“Providing a safe and warm space where they can recoup while waiting for the emergency services saves people from the additional trauma of having this most challenging moment of their life on display for all to see.

“We must also be cognisant of the volunteers. They are only human, and they operate in difficult weather conditions and in an equally difficult emotional setting. They need a place where they can debrief, where they can take that moment of pause.“

“These are volunteer organisations, and they are dependent on donations. They cannot afford the current rates and I urge the Council officials to be creative and flexible to ensure that these local heroes are provided with a building suitable to their needs.”

“Sinn Féin councillors have raised this issue numerous times over the last few years and we will continue to push until such a space is awarded to the suicide prevention teams in Limerick.

“The Mental health emergency we have means we need all stakeholders including the HSE, An Gardaí Síochana and Limerick Council, who all have a role to play, to step up to the challenge.

“Limerick Council should immediate provide a home even if temporary one for Limerick Treaty Suicide Prevention,” Deputy Quinlivan concluded.