£5k for new life-belts and early warning system to prevent suicide and improve safety along River Foyle

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New signage and safety measures will be rolled out along the River Foyle as part of ongoing suicide prevention efforts in the city after the Public Health Agency (PHA) provided £5,000 for the purpose.

The monies will be used to increase the provision of life-belts along the river where necessary.

An early electronic warning system that would automatically alert the city’s CCTV monitoring station and Foyle Search and Rescue anytime a life-belt is deployed will also be considered.

Head of Leisure and Community Development at Derry City and Strabane District Council, Barry O’Hagan, told the local authority’s Health and Community Committee, that the council had received the fresh Letter of Offer of £5,000 from the PHA.

The offer follows the successful installation of six new CCTV cameras on the Foyle Bridge last year. The PHA contributed £20,000 towards that potentially life-saving measure.

Mr. O’Hagan told members that the £5,000 provided will support safety management and suicide prevention.

He said a public health monitoring group will be established to review emerging data and that electronic signals will be installed at 20 support locations where there are already life-belts in place.

An audit of existing life-belt locations along the river will also be undertaken and new belts will be installed if necessary.

Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson said: “One of the things I would particularly welcome is additional life-belts along the River Foyle.

“They have the potential to save lives, and would provide a life line to anyone who finds themselves in the river,” he said.

Colr. Jackson said the development of an early warning system would also radically improve safety along the river.

SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack welcomed the funding but suggested an upgrade of the CCTV system at the Craigavon Bridge might also be considered.

She said: “I’ve been contacted by a family who have suffered loss there recently.

“They asked whether the cameras currently installed at the Craigavon Bridge could be looked at.

“Apparently, they are not up to the same standard.”

Lifeline is open 24 hours a day for anyone of any age living in the north and is free of charge on 0808 808 8000.