Founder of Claddagh Watch Arthur Carr, centre, with Claddagh Watch volunteers
On RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.
Arthur Carr, founder of Claddagh Watch, spoke to Mr O’Rourke.
Claddagh Watch is a group of volunteers who carry out night-time patrols on the bridges and waterways of Galway city with the intention of preventing accidents and deaths.
During their discussion, Mr Carr said that he and his colleagues found a suicidal young man by the River Corrib twice in one hour last Friday night.
The man had been tended to by gardai after the first incident.
Mr Carr explained that he and his colleagues went out to patrol the river at around 10.30pm on Friday night.
He said one of the members of Claddagh Watch had been approached by a relative of the man and told that the man had intended to take his life by entering the River Corrib, and that he had left a suicide note.
Not long after being told this information, Mr Carr said they found the man sitting on a 12-foot wall by the river and that he was in a “distressed and bad state”.
Mr Carr said the man attempted to jump into the river but the Claddagh Watch volunteers “manhandled him back to safety” and called 999.
Members of An Garda Síochána then took the man to be assessed, Mr Carr said.
However, Mr Carr couldn’t say who assessed him.
Within an hour, Mr Carr and his colleagues were tending to the man again by the River Corrib.
“It is like a revolving door, really and truly. But her arrived back on the bridge, to our volunteers and again we had to engage with this person and we had to try and calm him down and we got him to a safe place.
“We got him actually into a hotel which is adjacent to the bridge, Jury’s Hotel there in Claddagh, and he still was not in any state to engage with a family member at the time and it took a bit of talking an persuasion for him to realise that what we were trying to get him to dosas far more beneficial than what he was trying to achieve for himself, which was to take his own life.
“And, eventually, we did make headway and he did engage with a family member and as far as we are aware, she brought him down to the psychiatric unit where he said he would be prepared to go in and get some help for himself.
“He then realised that he does need psychiatric help.
“Now, after that, we don’t know because for our own safety, we don’t get involved with people once we hand them over, we walk away. And we don’t engage with the person anymore unless they want to engage with us.”
Mr Carr added:
“When they’re brought away, they’re being assessed but they’re being put back out onto the street, more or less immediately after, because there is nowhere for them.”
Asked if it’s happened before where Claddagh Watch would encounter the same person twice in one night, Mr Carr said:
“It is fairly regular I have to say.”
“….when you have someone that has been taken down [from a bridge], if they have alcohol on them, the psychiatric services don’t want to know, if they have drugs on them, they psychiatric services don’t want to know.
“But, when you look at it, there’s probably 80 per cent of the people that present to us on the bridges, or on the waterways, have either drugs or alcohol or even both. And they are wiping their hands of them. They don’t want to know.
“There is no care for them and it’s people, like us, that are directing them from entering the water and when we do that, the frustration is that it’s a high percentage that they’re going to be back and we’re going to have to deal with it again.
“And the whole cycle starts again. There is nowhere for them.”
“…like if somebody wants to jump 15 feet into a water that is running that quickly [17.5kph], they are not in a good place and the least they deserve is a chance to get back on their own two feet and they’re not going to do that by being put back out onto the street in their own care within an hour.”
Tonight, the NUIG Psychological Society is hosting a table quiz in aid of Claddagh Watch from 7.30pm at Massimo bar in Galway.
Samaritans: 116 123
Pieta House: 01 6010 000
Aware: 1890 303 302
Previously: Watching Out
An Avoidable Death