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2018 had lowest number of drownings of any year since 1939 – Minister Ring

Minister presents 14 rescuers with Water Safety Ireland awards

Mr Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural & Community Development today presented awards to 14 members of the public at the Water Safety Ireland Awards today for their role in helping to save the lives of 17 people who were in immediate danger of drowning.

On presenting the “SEIKO Just in Time” award to the 14 recipients, Minister Ring, who has responsibility for water safety, said:

It’s an honour to recognise the efforts of these heroic members of the public. Because of their actions, 17 people are still with us today.

Water Safety Ireland’s 10 year Drowning Prevention Strategy, which I launched in 2018, aims to reduce drownings by 50%. While there is no room for complacency, it is clear that progress is being made.

A total of 103 people drowned in 2018. While this figure is still too many, it represents the lowest number of drownings in any year since 1939 and a reduction by six of the 2017 figure. The figure would have been higher but for these courageous rescuers.

Over the last ten years, an average of 124 people have drowned each year in Ireland so we are moving in the right direction under the Drowning Prevention Strategy. We need to get the annual number of drownings to less than 100 and to continually work to further reduce fatalities.

The reduction in drownings is in no small part due to the public awareness campaigns and outreach activities carried out by Water Safety Ireland. There has been a particular focus on educating children in schools on the dangers associated with open water.

WSI have volunteers in every county working with local communities to try and raise awareness and prevent drownings. Parents and teachers are ideally placed to raise awareness and inspire people to take greater care in and around water.

While today is about recognising heroic interventions by members of the public, it’s also important to acknowledge the vital role of the emergency services in saving people from drowning. I would also like to thank the media for their part in highlighting the importance of water safety and the need to be vigilant on or around the water.

I acknowledge the voluntary effort that is so important to Water Safety Ireland’s activities and the continued corporate responsibility shown by SEIKO through their ongoing sponsorship of these awards.

At today’s awards ceremony, 61 volunteers were also presented with Long-Service Volunteer Awards, recognising a combined total of 1,275 years of personal service teaching swimming, water rescue and survival skills in communities nationwide.


Note to editors: 

Water Safety Ireland is the statutory body established to promote water safety in Ireland.  It operates under the aegis of the Department of Rural and Community Development seeking to educate people in water safety best practices and develop public awareness campaigns to promote necessary attitudes, rescue skills and behaviour to prevent drownings and water related accidents. 

The Department of Rural and Community Development oversees the governance of Water Safety Ireland and also provides funding towards its operating costs and for targeted initiatives aimed at raising the awareness and promotion of water safety issues generally. Water Safety Ireland is the subject of an annual audit by the C&AG. They are required to submit annual reports and audited financial statements to the Department every year and these are presented to the Oireachtas.

The Water Safety Ireland National Awards Ceremony is held to acknowledge those who have saved the lives of others from drowning and those who teach swimming, lifesaving, basic life support and rescue skills, in addition to the promotion of water safety awareness to the public. It also recognises those who contribute to water safety in other ways such as our emergency and rescue services and the media.