FSR faces festival bill farce

Members of the Foyle Search and Rescue team on one of the jet skis. 1703JM30
Members of the Foyle Search and Rescue team on one of the jet skis. 1703JM30

Derry charity Foyle Search and Rescue have said it’s ‘farcical’ that they may have turn to their own funds to cover Radio 1’s Big Weekend event.

The news comes at a time when FS&R’s operation is already under pressure in response to a series of suicides and suicide attempts at the river.

Craig Smith, chairman of the FS&R, said the organisation was having trouble getting money for two extra rescue boats and two jet skis on top of their usual patrols.

Mr Smith said; “On the last Radio One weekend in Derry we had four boats on the river and retrieved 24 people from the water on the Saturday night alone.”

Around 40,000 festivalgoers are expected at Ebrington next weekend.

Mr Smith revealed that Derry City Council has so far offered funding for one boat and one jetski.

“We will meet the cost of the extra vessels out of our own budget,” Mr Smith said. “This would be at a cost of roughly £80 per hour - at a time when we as an organisation are under a considerable amount of pressure as it is.

“We are dealing with a cluster of suicides or attempted suicides at the river.”

“We have to keep an extra eye on the Peace Bridge, the Craigavon Bridge and along the quay, along with our usual checks at Foyle Bridge. It seems farcical that we have to fight for funding for this.”

Last night a spokesperson for Derry City Council said they’re now planning to meet FSR this afternoon.

are currently being finalised.

“In the interest of public safety all decisions relating to event services are reviewed in line with strict health and safety guidelines,” the spokesperson added.

Mr Smith confirmed to the ‘Journal’ last night that a meeting was scheduled for this afternoon - following the media query from the ‘Journal’.