Shortly before the summer recess, on July 5th 2017, I introduced the Life Saving Equipment Bill in Seanad Eireann. On that same day, a briefing was held for Oireachtas members with guest speakers including Cathal Joyce, a young man whose life had been saved by a defibrillator when he suffered a cardiac arrest whilst playing football, John Fitzgerald and David Menzies of the Community First Responder Network and retired Lieutenant Commander John Leech of Irish Water Safety. The purpose of the briefing was to better inform Oireachtas members of what it is the Bill is trying to achieve and to seek their support in its passage through both Houses.
The Life Saving Equipment Bill, 2017 seeks to make it an offence to steal or damage life-saving equipment such as defibrillators and lifebuoys. If passed, the Bill 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. Routinely we hear of incidents across the country where defibrillators have been vandalised or destroyed, which is completely unacceptable behaviour and putting lives at risk. Similarly there is a serious problem with life rings and lifebuoys going missing at lakes, rivers and beaches. This legislation underpins the importance of these devices and will see a zero-tolerance approach to vandalism and theft.
A petition, calling on the Government to support the Life Saving Equipment Bill, 2017, was created on August 24th and has gathered just under 14,000 signatures so far. The support received has been overwhelming and illustrates clearly, the appetite there is for legislation to protect vital life-saving equipment. Two of the Independent Ministers in the Government have already pledged their support for the Bill. Similarly, Seanad Leader Jerry Buttimer has welcomed this legislation.
The petition can be signed here: