DAERA gives boat to Lough Neagh charity

DAERA Minister Michelle McIlveen hands over the keys of the Vigilare to Billy Mullen, patron of Lough Neagh Rescue. The former fisheries patrol vessel, which has been replaced by a more modern boat, was offered to groups in the Lough Neagh area which could use it for the good of the community. Once refitted, the Vigilare will become a command vessel for Lough Neagh Rescue and help to save lives on the Lough.
DAERA Minister Michelle McIlveen hands over the keys of the Vigilare to Billy Mullen, patron of Lough Neagh Rescue. The former fisheries patrol vessel, which has been replaced by a more modern boat, was offered to groups in the Lough Neagh area which could use it for the good of the community. Once refitted, the Vigilare will become a command vessel for Lough Neagh Rescue and help to save lives on the Lough.

A former fisheries patrol boat, which had spent years protecting fish stocks on Lough Neagh, has been given to a rescue charity by DAERA.

Minister Michelle McIlveen handed the keys to the boat – the Vigilare – to Lough Neagh Rescue (LNR).

“I am pleased to be able to give the Vigilare to Lough Neagh Rescue. The rescue service has been an essential part of the community for many years, voluntarily providing assistance to people in trouble on the water and saving many lives. I am delighted that the Vigilare will now form part of that service to help all who use the lough.”

Michelle McIlveen, DAERA Minister

The minister said: “While this boat was no longer of use to the department – it has been replaced with a more modern vessel – it was offered to charities in the area.”

As there would be negligible financial return through the usual sale process, and as an alternative to scrapping, it was decided to offer the vessel to groups who may be able to use it for the good of the community.

The minister said: “I am pleased to be able to give the Vigilare to Lough Neagh Rescue. The rescue service has been an essential part of the community for many years, voluntarily providing assistance to people in trouble on the water and saving many lives. I am delighted that the Vigilare will now form part of that service to help all who use the lough.”

While the boat was a gift, work is required to bring it the vessel up to an operational standard.

Interest was sought from local groups who could demonstrate that they could utilise the vessel for the good of the community, with LNR being the successful applicant.

LNR provide an essential lifeboat service on the Lough, operating three vessels from Kinnego, Ardboe and Antrim. The gifting of the Vigilare will enhance this service as it can act as a command control vessel and deliver safety equipment to scenes of incidents.

The minister said: “The Vigilare has played a key role in detecting, deterring and apprehending illegal fishing on Lough Neagh and its tributaries. It has been an invaluable part of fisheries protection during its lifetime, and I wish all those at Lough Neagh Rescue well as they take ownership of the vessel.”

A spokesperson for Lough Neagh Rescue said: “The team at Lough Neagh Rescue would like to thank Minister McIlveen and DAERA Inland Fisheries for the keys to the Vigilare - a former Fisheries patrol boat.

“This vessel will help us to continue saving lives on the Lough through the further development of our fleet and indeed, volunteers.”