The life-saving partnership between the GAA and the search and rescue charity, the RNLI, is gearing up this bank holiday weekend to help save lives. The two organisations have been working together in communities throughout Ireland to share water safety advice with GAA players and to deliver water safety talks to GAA clubs around the country.
As the bank holiday approaches the charity has seen a sharp increase in lifeboat callouts, as volunteer lifeboat crews launched 30 times in the last ten days compared to just 45 callouts over the previous two months during the coronavirus restrictions.
As the good weather is set to continue for the weekend, the RNLI is concerned that lives may be lost as people are beginning to visit the coast for recreation following a slight easing of restrictions which permit people to exercise within a 5km radius. Working together, the RNLI and the GAA are sharing important water safety advice and asking people to share the message and know what to do in an emergency.
In joint messaging created to be shared on social media platforms, the warning will be given that lifeguards can’t be everywhere, so protect your family, never use inflatables in the sea and dial 112 or 999 for the Coast Guard in an emergency.
The GAA will start sharing the safety messaging today (Friday 29 May) across their social media channels and will continue over the weekend. After which the organisations will continue their water safety work over the summer and feature players and RNLI lifeboat volunteers giving tips and advice on staying safe on the water.
The key water safety messages from the RNLI and the GAA are:
- Protect your family – we must all take great care on the water this summer and look out for our family and our community
- Do not use inflatables
- In an emergency dial 112 or 999 and ask for Coast Guard
RNLI Head of Water Safety Gareth Morrison said, “This partnership between the GAA and the RNLI is literally a lifesaver. As the coronavirus restrictions start to ease under the Government’s plan, although with the 5km still in place, we are expecting to see increasing numbers of people visit our beautiful coast and take to the water.
“This has already been evidenced by a sharp increase in the number of callouts for our volunteer lifeboat crews. Over the last number of days, we have launched to members of the public cut off by tide, stranded on rocks, swimmers and kayakers in difficulty, children blown out to sea on inflatables and leisure craft in trouble.
“Getting safety advice out through the GAA brings the message to our communities.”
GAA President John Horan added: “It has been a pleasure to work with the RNLI on our lifesaving partnership for the past three years. With our shared volunteer ethos and our roots in the community, we know that we can continue to help the charity with their vital lifesaving work.
“The GAA has not been untouched by drowning tragedies. Many of our players and members have suffered because of drowning. It would be unbearable if, as we start to emerge from the coronavirus lockdown and start to spend time with loved ones outside and on the coast, that we might lose a loved one to drowning.
“I urge everyone to take heed of safety advice and share it with family and friends this weekend and in the weeks and months ahead. We have been proud to have the RNLI in Croke Park on match days in their full lifeboat kit centre stage in recent years and it’s a partnership that has been embraced and welcomed by our people.
“I look forward to seeing this partnership flourish over the coming months and I hope everyone has a safe bank holiday weekend.”
RNLI water safety advice can be found at www.rnli.org/safety
Photo: RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew on the pitch at Croke Park during an All-Ireland semi-final last year (Credit: Sportsfile).