sea tragedy  | 

Safety practices for recreational boats to be reviewed after deaths of Gerry Doherty and Thomas Weir

Gerry and his nephew Thomas perished when their boat capsized off Malin Head in 2018

Dessie Keenan and wife Donna Marie, daughter of Gerry Doherty. Photo: NW Newspix

Stephen Maguire 

There will be a review of safety practices for recreational boats around Ireland's coastline following the deaths of two men in Co Donegal.

Gerry Doherty, 63, and his nephew Thomas Weir, 16, perished when their 19ft boat capsized off the coast of Malin Head in July, 2018.

Their inquests found they died as a result of an accident.

However, Donegal coroner Dr Denis McCauley recommended a number of measures to improve safety around the Code of Practice for such boats.

Drowning victim Thomas Weir

It follows the disclosure at the inquests which found that up to 60,000 vessels were using Ireland's coastline each year with no need for any safety measures, training or licenses.

At the end of last week's inquests, the dead men's family criticised the Department.

Donna Marie Keenan, a daughter of the late Gerry Doherty whose husband Dessie survived the tragedy said "It is clear that there have been monumental failings by the Department of Transport that led to the death of our beloved relatives."

"Nothing can bring Thomas and my father Gerry back. They, along with my husband Dessie were on an innocent fishing trip that so many other people in Ireland do so often.

"But thanks to this empathetic Coroner and Jury made very important recommendations have been made that will save further life across this nation."

Now the Department of Transport has confirmed a formal review of the current Code of Practice is scheduled to commence in the last quarter of this year with a stakeholder consultation process.

The Department extended its sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of Gerry Doherty and Thomas Weir.

A spokesperson said "The Department notes the recommendations made. Ensuring safety across water-based activities is a priority for the Department of Transport. In line with the Irish Maritime Directorate Strategy 2021-2025, the Department promotes maritime safety through interaction with those involved in water-based activities, with the support of governing bodies and training providers, as well as through regular Marine Notices and such safety publications as the Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft.

"The Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft addresses the wide variety of recreational craft used in Ireland and outlines legislative requirements and operational guidance.

"It also provides information on recommended training and training providers which can be accessed as a member of the public or through membership of a sports club where training is provided through the respective National Governing Bodies.

"A formal review of the current Code of Practice is scheduled to commence in Q4 2022 with a stakeholder consultation process.

"The Department of Transport regularly highlights and will continue to highlight and promote at every opportunity the importance of having a reliable means of communication for use in the event of an emergency while at sea or on inland waters and the legal requirements in relation to wearing and carrying of Personal Flotation Devices/Lifejackets through various communication activities."

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