Minister to talk centre safety with drowned boy’s father

MARINE Minister Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher is to meet next Tuesday with the father of a 14-year-old boy who drowned at sea 10 years ago.

Michael Davies, from Mount Pleasant in Waterford, protested outside the Department of the Marine yesterday for more than two hours in a bid to highlight his battle with the Government to ensure leisure centres have adequate safety standards.

“The journey was not in vain. It has been productive. I’ve a meeting with Minister Gallagher on Tuesday so we may be getting to the bottom of this,” the father of three said.

Ros Davies was one of two people who drowned in a canoeing tragedy off Dunmore East in Waterford on February 18, 1995. Legislation was promised to police standards within the adventure centre business after Ros’ death and that of 21-year-old Keith Crowley - but it was never delivered.

The necessary Bill was approved by the Dáil and the legislation was signed by the President in 2001. Money was even set aside by the Department of Finance. But successive Marine Ministers have failed to simply sign their name to the legislation, said Mr Davies.

He said it was a pity he had to go to such lengths to get the department to sit up and take note. “On the 10th anniversary, (yesterday) of my son’s death, we should be allowed time to grieve. I should be at home with my family. But instead, I’m here in Dublin, protesting outside the department,” the bookkeeper said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of the Marine said progress is being made on the matter.

“The minister is currently examining the establishment of AASA (Adventure Activity Standards Authority) in the context of establishing a single office to handle all safety matters,” she said.

“At the moment, the various safety services (Maritime Safety Directorate, Irish Coast Guard etc) have been brought together in a single office.

“Issues of possible overlaps still have to be sorted out to ensure there is no conflict of function.”

A spokesman for the Dunmore East Adventure Centre said he had no comment to make on the matter.

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