Tough safety laws for small boats announced


New regulations to govern the safety of small passenger boats have been signed into law, the Minister for Communications and the Marine, Mr Ahern announced this morning.

The move follows a series of accidents and fatalities, some involving vessels on which passengers were not wearing lifejackets.

In one accident in Fethard-on-Sea in Co Wexford, five people, including three generations of one family, drowned when their fishing boat sank in calm waters.

The new regulations will come into force on January 1st, rather than the originally planned date, June 6th next year.

"The overall result of the introduction of the regulations will be a safer regime, where the public have a right and expectation to know that the boat they are on complies with safety standards," Me Ahern said this morning.

"It is a first step in putting in place a regime of regulation, enforcement and public awareness, with the objective of ending avoidable tragedies in our waters."

Under the new regulations, all boats transporting paying passengers will need a special licence and will have to comply with a number of statutory requirements.

The minister warned that any operating illegally from next month would be "subject to the full rigours of the law".