A ban on Jet skiers may be only option, say swimmers
Concerns someone will be killed or seriously injured by jet skiers behaving recklessly have been voiced by swimmers using the beach at Ned's Point outside Buncrana.
Speaking to Donegal Live, Pat Gaynor of the Swilly Swimmers said: “Jet skis are not a problem every weekend but when they are being used on the Swilly at Ned's Point, it is a serious problem.
“There is going to be someone killed or seriously injured, definitely. The degree of recklessness by some jet skiers has increased in the past two or three years but particularly this year.
“There are swimmers, not necessarily Swilly Swimmers, but elderly swimmers who cannot walk to Porthaw and can only access the Swilly at Ned's Point because it is close by the slipway, who are being endangered by jet skiers.
“When the jet skis are there, these folk are denied swimming. It is only jet skis. It is not boats. It is not fishing boats, it is not sailing boats. It is not kayakers. It is jet skis. I have footage from Sunday (September 30) clearly showing a jet skier far too close to a swimmer in the water, an elderly man,” said Pat Gaynor.
Mr Gaynor added that the requirements of the Maritime Safety Act 2005 were being “totally ignored” by some jet skiers.
He said: “When there are swimmers in the water, the jet skiers are coming too close to them. The jet skiers are putting the swimmers at serious risk.
“I have seen jet skiers drinking on the banks there, drinking cans and then getting up on jet skis. I have seen jet skiers going into the water without the safety key cut-out attached to them, a safety measure which means the jet ski would stop if they fell off.
“Three weeks ago, there was a fella tearing up and down, close to the jetty there and I mentioned it to him that there was 20 odd people in the water swimming, kids and everything. He apologised and said he had only bought the jet ski the day before. So that is what you are dealing with.
“We have had incidents in the water where jet skis come close to swimmers and swimmers have had to group and come back as a group,” said Mr Gaynor
According to Pat Gaynor, An Garda Síochána have a policing responsibility regarding jet skiers and Donegal County Council is responsible for making regulations.
He said: “We have spoken to what I would call responsible jet skiers, who have done safety courses and they are livid with the irresponsible jet skiers because they know that the launch of jet skis at Ned's Point is now being put at risk. There may be a ban.
“The behaviour of the reckless jet skiers risks a total ban on the launch of jet skis at Ned's Point. I have spoken to one guy who has all of the qualifications and he is terrified of what they are at. He knows there are consequences. Some of these jet skis can travel at 100 kilometres per hour in the water. There are not supposed to endanger any other water users. They are just supposed to keep away.
“The Maritime Safety Act 2005 provides for An Garda to be able to arrest jet skiers and seize their jet skis. It also provides for the council to make regulations. Donegal County Council could actually ban the launch of jet skis at Ned's Point if it followed the correct procedure as per the Act.
“Sometimes when they are launching the jet skis you could have a van parked at the end of the slip way. I have seen two vans parked there and its there for about 10 or 15 minutes while they launch their jet skis, effectively blocking the access of the lifeboats. It may be approaching a situation where there need to be a total ban on the launch of Jet skis at Ned's Point and, unfortunately, the responsible jet skiers are going to suffer. That is a matter for the council and it needs to take it seriously. A death is going to happen,” said Pat Gaynor.
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