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Those who destroy defibrillators could face five years in prison under proposed new laws

New legislation could also see vandals hit with a €50,000 punishment.

Three men caught on CCTV destroying a defibrillator in Arklow, Wicklow, just after Christmas last year.
Three men caught on CCTV destroying a defibrillator in Arklow, Wicklow, just after Christmas last year.
Image: Facebook/Geraldine Nolan

VANDALS WHO DESTROY lifesaving equipment could face five years in prison and a €50,000 fine under proposed new laws.

New legislation is being drafted by Dr Keith Swanick, Fianna Fáil’s health spokesperson in Seanad Éireann, which would introduce a new offence in relation to the theft or damage of life saving equipment such as defibrillators and lifebuoys.

The Life Saving Equipment Bill 2017 is currently being drafted and it will be formally published shortly.

According to the senator, around 13 people die every day from cardiac arrest and the overwhelming majority of those that die are busy going about their daily lives.

Swanwick says that having a readily accessible defibrillator, which can deliver an electric shock to the heart muscle through the chest wall in order to restore a normal heart rate, is a piece of life saving equipment.

At the end of last year, TheJournal.ie reported that gardaí were investigating three men who were caught on camera destroying a defibrillator in Arklow, Wicklow. The kit was only placed on the wall by a first responders charity group. Its value was estimated at €2,000.

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Speaking about the proposed legislation, Swanwick said: “Over Christmas everyone was shocked to see the outrageous display of thuggery where three men were caught on CCTV camera destroying a defibrillator in Arklow.

Unfortunately this type of behaviour is not isolated and there needs to be a much greater deterrent to ensure that people think twice before interfering with, stealing or damaging life saving equipment.

Swanwick added: “If people know that a custodial sentence of up to five years, or indeed a fine of up to €50,000 could arise on foot of stealing a lifebuoy or damaging a defibrillator, they might think twice.

“This legislation that I am drafting is designed to allow the Oireachtas send a strong signal that there can be no tolerance for damaging life saving equipment. Severe financial penalties as well as custodial sentencing options will be contained in the bill.”

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