With the dangers of being in and around water brought to the fore in recent months in Fermanagh following the death of Kenny Andrews on Lough Erne last month and the findings at an inquest into the death of Michael Beattie, a motion was passed at Tuesday night’s meeting in relation to the wearing of life jackets and personal flotation devices.

Brought forward by Councillor Keith Elliott and seconded by Councillor David Mahon, the motion called upon all councils to petition for a change in legislation which will make it mandatory for people to wear life jackets or personal flotation devices whilst on board a vessel on the waterways.

“The Republic of Ireland currently holds a mandatory policy and in the interest of safety for our citizens it is incumbent that we review the current legislation.

“Fermanagh is a place of beauty, a place people come for recreation.

“It was clear to see during any given day during the hot summer weather, the number of boats which had docked at jetties across the county,” said Councillor Elliott.

“While these days can create many happy memories, for some it can also end in tragedy.

Over the summer there has been another death on Lough Erne. This is something we need to avoid. This latest death was a visitor to our area.

At all costs we need to ensure there is proper equipment in place to aid those in difficulty in the waters.

“I know first-hand the amazing work our local RNLI station, Coastguard and other emergency services provide. However, many aren’t aware of how quickly the Lough conditions can change.

“At a recent inquest into the death of Michael Beattie, calls were made for life-jackets or flotation devices to be made mandatory.”

The UUP’s Cllr. Alex Baird praised the motion as “laudable” but felt the motion was “putting the horse before the cart.

He proposed that the two authorities that would have to enforce any legislation, Waterways Ireland and the PSNI, should be consulted in the first instance to see what is needed legislatively.

He proposed an amendment to initiate consultation with these organisations in to what legislation is needed prior to calling on council to petition on an introduction of such legislation that would make it mandatory to for all people to wear life jackets or personal flotation devices whilst on vessels.

“The spirit is still there but we must negotiate with authorities,” he added.

Councillor Barry Doherty reflected on the personal tragedy he has endured through his grandmother falling off a vessel in Belturbet without a life jacket and tragically drowning and he supported the motion and the amendment if it goes toward any family avoiding losses like this.

Councillor Thomas O’Reilly, a keen canoeist, was delighted to support motion saying that personal flotation devices should also be worn on jetties and not only when on the water.

“It’s good that we can start this process here by bringing this matter to light,” he said.

Independent Councillor Sorcha McAnespy, in supporting the motion said she could not understand why people would be on the water without a lifejacket.

SDLP Councillor John Coyle in giving his party’s support to the motion said that the water is dangerous and needed to be respected by those using it.

The motion at Tuesday night’s Council meeting was passed with the amendment made by Councillor Baird accepted by the Democratic Unionist’s Party.