GAA and RNLI launch new campaign to prevent drowning
THE GAA and RNLI launched a new joint campaign yesterday aimed at reducing the number of people who lose their lives in Ireland though drowning.
An average of 28 people a year drown accidentally around the Irish coast, and RNLI aims to halve this by 2024.
The emergency lifeboat charity will work with the GAA to give its clubs, particularly those along the coast, information and support that could save lives.
Many GAA clubs are based in coastal communities with 333 in a 10km radius of the 46 RNLI lifeboat stations across Ireland.
It is hoped their location makes them ideally placed for sharing information and raising awareness of the causes of drowning and how to prevent it.
Antrim champion hurler Neil McManus, who helped launch the initiative, said: "The stories of loss through drowning that we've heard from the RNLI really hit home. You can't help but think of the grief of the families.
"I play hurling across the road from the local lifeboat station and I know not everyone can be rescued.
"In backing this campaign I hope that the message reaches as many people as possible because no family should have to suffer the pain of losing a loved one through drowning."
RNLI's drowning prevention campaign 'Respect the Water' will be supported through the GAA's 'Healthy Clubs' initiative and the wider club network.
GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghaíl praised RNLI's efforts to "keep people safe all year round".
Paul Boissier, RNLI chief executive, said: "Much like a lifeboat station, a GAA club is at the heart of community life.
"Sporting communities can play a major role in preventing deaths by drowning."