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Near tragic Camlough Lake incident lead to calls for Water Rescue Unit in Newry

Camlough Lake

An almost tragic drowning at Camlough Lake this week has prompted calls for a Water Rescue Unit to be based in Newry.

A young person had been struggling in the water for the best part of an hour before they were rescued during the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Emergency services had to force access to kayaks stored at the lake in order to save the distressed individual.

And that, MLA Justin McNulty says, is unacceptable.

The SDLP representative has requested an urgent meeting with the Chief of the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service after tragedy was narrowly avoided.

Related: Young man rescued from middle of Camlough Lake in early hours

With the nearest water rescue team based in Belfast, Mr McNulty is pressing the need for personnel to be trained and stationed in Newry.

“This incident at Camlough Lake could have ended in tragedy,” he said.

“I commend the first responders who had the gumption to use their discretion in utilising kayaks to get to the young person in distress and ensure their safety, but I don’t think we should lose sight of the fact that the lack of water rescue coverage in this area is putting lives at risk.

“The fact that the only people trained, qualified, and authorised to respond to water rescue incidents are based in Belfast is totally unacceptable to me, and I have requested an urgent meeting with the Chief of the NI Fire & Rescue Service to table my concerns with him and push for a water rescue unit to be established in Newry.

SDLP Slieve Gullion Representative Killian Feehan added: “This week’s incident at Camlough Lake has highlighted the alarming lack of coverage in the context of water rescue for people in our area.

“Up until fairly recently, the only water rescue team in the north was based in Belfast, until a number of tragic incidents in the north west necessitated the establishment of a water rescue unit in Derry.

“We narrowly avoided tragedy this week only because of the gumption of emergency responders. We should not have to wait for someone to die before action is taken to establish a permanent water rescue presence in Newry. People here should have the same access to emergency services as people elsewhere in the north.

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