The RNLI beach lifeguard unit on Benone Strand on the North coast has been vandalised for a second time this season.
A member of the public reported that at approximately 10pm on Monday night last (1 August), they spotted damage being caused to the beach lifeguard unit near the entrance to the beach.
On further investigation, the charity’s lifeguards discovered on Tuesday morning that the vandals had damaged the roof of the beach lifeguard unit having stripped off the brackets that secure an essential VHF aerial.
Ideal for the harsh beach environment, lifeguards rely on handheld VHF radios to communicate with each other when on patrol and to communicate with their colleagues in the Coastguard in the event of an emergency.
RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor Karl O’Neill said: ‘While we were fortunate to find the wire wasn’t damaged on the aerial which would have rendered our VHF communications off service, the damage was such that given the poor weather we have been experiencing the signal could have been affected.’
Prior to the peak season commencing this summer, a window door entrance was smashed in the hut during the Easter period.
It is estimated that the repairs to the beach lifeguard unit will run into hundreds of pounds for the charity.
The RNLI is working closely with the Police Service of Northern Ireland in an attempt to prevent further damage being done to the beach unit for the remainder of the season.
‘We would appeal to those doing this damage to be mindful that the RNLI is a charity’, Karl continued. ‘Our lifeguards are an essential part of what is a seamless rescue service that saves lives from the beach to the open sea. Our lifeguards’ primary role on Benone Strand as on all eight lifeguarded beaches on the Causeway Coast is to make sure the beach can be enjoyed safely by the public.
‘We hope that these acts of vandalism will cease and that our lifeguards can continue to operate from the unit safely.’