Boxer says he 'is no hero' after river rescue

Former Minister Kevin 'Boxer' Moran has dismissed any notion of being a hero after coming to the aid of a swimmer who got into difficulty on the Shannon on Wednesday night.

However, he sounded a major warning to the public to be careful in the hot weather and respect the river, saying the “level of dangerous activity on the water is unreal” by many people who are inexperienced swimming or boating on the Shannon.

Boxer, who is a keen water enthusiast and spends many evenings on the water with his wife Michelle, recalled two separate swimming incidents last night that could have ended up in tragedy.

In the second more serious one, he came to aid of a young man who was swimming alongside a boat between the White Bridge and the Jolly Mariner. At around 8.20pm Boxer was alerted when heard cries for help from those on the vessel.

With lower water levels, the weeds have grown extremely high and it appears the holidaymaker got dragged into them, going underwater three times before Boxer managed to get him out with a rope and a lifejacket.

“I was no hero. I was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time,” he said modestly when contacted by the Westmeath Independent on Thursday, saying if there no one around to help the young man, thought to be in his 20s and from Dublin, he was in big trouble.

The former minister and councillor also recounted the details of another incident around 6.50pm when three young men jumped off a wooden jetty close to the Golden Mile and attempted to swim across towards The Jolly Mariner.

While one young man got into some difficulty, luckily he was helped out by friends on the Jolly Mariner side before Boxer was able to return him to the other side by boat.

“Those jetties are for fishing and activities – they are not for diving off. I'd warn people to take care that stretch of water has a strong current and it's very deep.

"Once you get out out of the navigation channels you are hitting weeds,” he warned, saying a major danger at present is getting caught in extremely high and heavy weeds which can drag you down even if you're an experienced swimmer.

“I'd really appeal to people to be safe – swimming across there (from Golden Mile across to The Jolly Mariner' is deadly dangerous,” said Boxer, explaining that he gave the group a “good dressing down” afterwards because of the dangers of what they were doing.

“In both incidents it could have been disaster. The first guy said in the boat back he was terrified,” recalled Boxer.

He also appealed to parents who know their children going in the water to ask them to stay safe, respect the water and for all water users not to drink alcohol.

He stressed that he is not being over critical of young people and understands how hard their life has been over the last year and half.

“My plea is just to take care and for parents to know where their children are. If swimming in groups I'd ask them to carry a lifebuoy which could help anyone who gets into difficulty. These were two minor incidents but they could have been tragedies,” ended Boxer.