SPEEDING jet skis on Lough Derg created such a commotion that a cow on a Clare farm became distressed and miscarried its calf, according to a local Dáil deputy.
The nuisance caused by jet skis on Lough Derg was criticised by Deputy Michael McNamara during a Dáil debate about the need to tackle the inappropriate use of quad bikes.
Commenting on the increased number of people on the water this summer because of the lockdown and the initial good weather, Deputy McNamara recalled jet skis were used on lakes where they had never been seen before.
“I spoke to a constituent about it yesterday. She told me of an incident on her family farm, which adjoins a lake. A cow was so panicked by jet skis on the lake that she threw a calf,” he said.
Last June, Killaloe Coast Guard appealed to jet ski operators to operate in the open waters of Lough Derg away from restricted zones near the historic bridge.
Deputy officer in charge, Damien Madden made the plea after the coast guard unit was tasked twice over the May Bank Holiday weekend to assist Gardai who were having difficulty getting operators to move from particular areas.
Mr Madden recalled a number of jet skis were driving at full speed between Ballina slipway and Killaloe Bridge in a five knott speed zone on Saturday.
He said this was dangerous because a number of people were swimming off the pontoon at the back of Tuscany in spite of no swimming signs and had to be asked by local gardai to desist.
He stressed there is no issue with jet skis who operate outside the bollards in open waters in Ballycuggeran and has friends with jet skis who comply with guidelines.
Acknowledging quad bikes are essential work vehicles, Deputy McNamara told the Dáil they also can be a complete nuisance.
Praising Sinn Féin for tabling this Dáil motion, he said it was important to discuss the serious injury and death as well as the mere nuisance that quad bikes and scramblers can cause when inappropriately used.
The Independent Deputy proposed that jet skis, which were a nuisance he encountered throughout the summer, should also be included in the same category as quad bikes if any new regulations are being introduced by the government.
Urging Minister of State at the Department of Justice James Browne to look at the nuisance jet skis cause, Deputy McNamara pointed out the last minister to look at this and propose a licensing regime was the former Minister for State at the then Department of the Marine and Natural Resources, Deputy Hugh Byrne.
While Deputy McNamara is opposed to any licensing for boating, he stressed jet skis are very different from a young lad doing a bit of fishing in a boat on a lake.
“One of my earlier childhood memories is of someone wrapping a jet ski around a pier. The rider was going at full throttle and simply did not know how to stop. Apparently a jet ski will stop if one drops it, but this person did not know it and ploughed straight into a pier.
“They were brought to hospital by an ambulance. Luckily they survived, though the jet ski did not. The nuisance continues in that same spot year after year.
“I am not suggesting for a moment that all jet skis are a nuisance. There is a time and a place for jet skis, just as there is for quad bikes and scrambler motorcycles, as Sinn Féin fully recognises in this motion. Those vehicles are appropriate in properly fenced and secured mountain biking areas.
“However, jet skis on the water and motorbikes in parks are potentially very dangerous vehicles. We are all very aware of the very sad story of the Armenian couple which might have partly inspired this motion. Other people have come close to very serious harm because of the inappropriate use of motorcycles and quad bikes.
“I urge the Minister to keep jet skis in mind when dealing with this issue because they pose a particular threat. They also pose a threat to people who just want to go about their lives and enjoy a tranquil and scenic day on Lough Derg.
“Someone wishing to do some quiet and contemplative fishing can be confronted with an idiot on a jet ski. Not every jet ski owner is an idiot. Many are highly responsible, but unfortunately not all of them are. Some kind of regime must be put in place to differentiate between those who use jet skis in appropriate places and those who do not, and thus break the peace and tranquility of the area and endanger human and animal life on quiet lakes, frequently frightening cattle,” he said.
Leas-Cheann Comhairle, Deputy Catherine Connolly said Deputy McNamara’s comments on jet skis was a “lenient interpretation of the motion”.
Deputy McNamara replied jet skis posed a similar problem as quad bikes.