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Multi-agency meeting held to discuss Enagh Lough

07 October 2022
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Sandra Duffy today convened a multi-agency meeting to discuss safety measures at Enagh Lough where it was agreed to engage with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) to explore the possibility of them carrying out an initial scoping exercise with a view to assess and provide a report with recommendations on water safety at the amenity.
The meeting was convened in response to the tragic passing of Reuven Simon and Joseph Sebastian who died after getting into difficulty whilst swimming with friends in the Lough in late August. Attended by representatives from various interested groups and organisations, the purpose of the meeting was to look at what possible additional safety measures could be made to the amenity.
Among those in attendance were representatives from the Honourable the Irish Society, Enagh Country Park, Foyle Search and Rescue, PSNI, Loughs Agency and the Policing and Community Safety Partnership as well as local MLAs, Derry City and Strabane District Council party leaders, independent councillors and elected representatives from the Faughan DEA.
The meeting heard that while Derry City and Strabane District Council has no statutory responsibility for waterways and water safety or any ownership of lands at Enagh Lough, it has taken a proactive approach through engagement with a range of stakeholders and interested parties to carry out exploratory works to help identify roles and responsibilities at the lough.
It was acknowledged at the meeting that ownership and responsibility for Enagh Lough is fragmented, with several different landowners owning various parts around the edge of the Lough, and some of the bed and soil of the Lough. Taking this on board all the partners in their detailed discussions around safety measures  and improvement actions agreed that a joint multi-agency approach was the best way forward.
Attendees at the meeting were advised that a document of particular interest and relevance to the discussions is a report published by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents entitled “Managing Safety at Inland Waters.” The report looks at the water related risk, legal implications and case law, as well as the  guiding principles for managing drowning and water risks and how to plan for water safety. It also looks at assessing and managing risk, visitor information and campaigns.
The RoSPA Guidance documents provides details of a number of case studies of water related incidents and fatalities and how the Society worked with local partners to undertake a strategic review of water safety and made a number of recommendations on how organisations can chart their way through this process and implement a way forward.
It was unanimously agreed at the meeting that given RoSPA’s track record as being best practice guides and experts in this topic,  that the multi-agency group would engage with them to carry out an initial scoping exercise with a view to carrying out an assessment and report with recommendations.
Council agreed to take the lead in engaging with RoSPA directly with a view to inviting them to attend a future meeting of the group and providing costings and timeframes for a report and recommendations.
It was also discussed at the meeting that opportunities exist for immediate short term actions to be implemented that include education, awareness raising and signage that respective agencies agreed to consider how they might positively respond to.
Mayor Cllr Sandra Duffy extending her thanks to everyone for attending the meeting said that “Our thoughts and deep sympathies were with the families at this meeting this afternoon. It is important that all partners examine and review what happened and I am confident that input from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents will provide the necessary assistance in reviewing the site and moving forward.
She said: “In the absence of a lead agency being responsible for Lough Enagh it is imperative that we address this issue in a collective manner and do all we can by working collaboratively towards prioritising water safety and look at responsibility for the lough through partnership working and collaboration in raising awareness, addressing competence and communications.
 
“I look forward to getting feedback from RoSPA and getting their advice on how we can take proactive steps around safety measures and improvement actions at the Lough. We all have a responsibility to do all we can to prevent another tragedy in this lough,” she concluded.