Belfast Telegraph

Fundraising page set up after vandals cause £5k damage to 'life-saving' rescue boat

An online fundraising page has been set up after £5,000 damage was caused to a Foyle Search and Rescue boat.

The incident took place in the Queen's Quay area of Derry around 7.30pm on Wednesday, March 7 and police are investigating a report of criminal damage.

The fundraising page was set up by Ciaran McLaughlin and has already raised £275 of the £800 target.

Foyle Search and Rescue Chairman Stephen Twells said the vandalism put lives at risk.

"It's a very sad day when someone feels that they can destroy such a valuable piece of lifesaving equipment as a rescue boat. But that's what appears to have happened," he said.

"One of our boats, Spirit of James, was damaged sometime before 7pm yesterday (Wednesday) , in what may have been a malicious and intentional act of vandalism, while moored in what has always been a safe, secure location.

"Why someone would do this I won't comment on, other than this: shame on them.

"What they obviously didn't think about was the potential impact this mindless act could have had on someone's life, as well as the work we do-or maybe they knew full well!

"What they probably didn't think about at the time, was the extent of CCTV in the area and I can only hope that this person/persons are apprehended before any more damage is done, as this isn't the first time we have had one of our boats damaged recently.

"But they certainly didn't take into consideration the resilience, determination and resolve that all our volunteers have, when faced with challenges. Thats what FSR is made of!

"This stupid act will not stop us delivering the lifesaving service that we have done for the last 25 years, not for one minute, or one day.

"Our volunteers and repair company have been working non-stop from last night to ensure we will be back to our full strength as soon as possible.

"Yes it will cost us financially to repair the damage, not just to the boat, but to some essential equipment that was on the boat at the time, as this boat has been active in an ongoing search and yes, sadly, we may have to work with our external partners to review our security measures to protect our life saving equipment, but that won't deter us from delivering what is a crucial service to our city.

"Thank you to everyone who has shown us support upon hearing this news and will no doubt continue to do so."

Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan encouraged people to support the fundraiser.

"Whatever would possess someone to vandalise a vehicle used by heroes to save lives and ease suffering is beyond me," he said.

"But the damage has been done, let's help undo it."

PSNI Sergeant Nick Rainey called on anyone with information to come forward.

“It is believed that £5,000 worth of damage was caused to a Foyle Search and Rescue boat during the incident,” he said.

“I would appeal to anyone who witnessed the incident or has any information to contact police on 101 quoting reference 1209 7/3/18. Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime."

Anyone wishing to donate can visit the fundraising page here.

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