Northern Ireland

Vandals put Belfast lifeboat out of service

Belfast lifeboat Image copyright Lagan Search and Rescue
Image caption Vandals have put Belfast lifeboat out of service

Belfast's dedicated lifeboat is out of service after vandals removed part of its steering system.

The voluntary organisation Lagan Search and Rescue has said it will cost up to £500 to repair the damage.

Barry Carroll, one of the team leaders, said they hope to be operational again within the next two weeks.

Until then, the nearest lifeboat to the city is in Bangor.

"Obviously you've got the travel time from Bangor to Belfast, whereas normally you'd have a 10-minute response time and the boat would be on the water," Mr Carroll said.

"So you're going to have to add the additional 10 minutes or 15 minutes transit time getting into Belfast.

"So somebody that's in the water, especially at this time of year with it being a lot colder, they're not going to survive as long in the cold water."

Image copyright Lagan search and rescue
Image caption The force used by the vandals to remove a specific part broke the steering rods that were connected to it

Mr Carroll said it would take time to raise the money for repairs.

"We're a volunteer organisation. We raise our money through bucket lifts and sponsorship from local companies," he said.

"You never know when it's going to be needed, it's one of those services, like any acute water rescue, that could be needed any time."

Mr Carroll said those responsible had targeted a specific part of the boat.

"The damage that's been done, it's a specific part that's been taken, so either they know what they've been looking for, or the part they've been looking for, or it's just a genuine random act," he said.

"The part is probably four or five centimetres in width, four or five centimetres in height, but the force that they've used to take that part off has actually broken the steering rods that were connected to it."

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