What We Do At Water Safety Ireland

Our focus is on public awareness and education. Tragically, an average of 110 people drown each year in Ireland.  We feel that this is simply unacceptable considering that most fatalities are avoidable.  We strive to reduce these fatalities by increasing water safety awareness and by changing attitudes and behaviours so that our aquatic environments can be enjoyed with confidence and safety.

What WE DO
Strategic Development

History of WSI

Water Safety Ireland’s long and proud history has been published, thanks to the wonderful efforts of author Tiarnan O’Sullivan who has been involved with WSI since 2002, working as both a pool and beach lifeguard and volunteering as an instructor and as secretary of our Cork committee.

Tiarnan began researching our history in early 2013 and has captured delightful stories, many from the founding members of the organisation, established in 1945.

Doors were opened, attics were trolled and memories awoken that are now reflected in 288 pages of vigorous and often witty reflections.

Order via [email protected] / 091-564400

Softback: 15 Euros; Hardback: 25 Euros


Meet Our Council

See more about Water Safety Ireland’s Council & what our Commissions do.

Working Groups are appointed within each.

Commission Duties

Clare McGrath


Clare is an active Water Safety Ireland instructor, examiner, tutor and international referee and she has worked as a referee at the highest level at European and World competitions. Clare has been involved in the organisation of Regional and National lifesaving competitions, both pool and beach for 20 years. She works with Clare County Council, as the Water Safety Development Officer, within the Environment Section.

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Philip Keleghan

Philip Keleghan is from County Wicklow and has been involved in Water Safety and other aquatic activities for over forty years. He is an active Water Safety Instructor, Examiner, and Swimming Tutor. He is currently the National VIce Chair and head of the technical Commission.

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Tom O’Mahony

Tom O’Mahony lives in Dunboyne, Co. Meath. His is a retired civil servant and served as Secretary General of the Department of Transport and Sport. In a previous role in the Department of the Environment he was involved in the statutory establishment of Water Safety Ireland, then Irish Water Safety, in 1999. He is very active in the fields of sport (where he is President of St Patrick’s Athletic FC and a member of the Board of the Federation of Irish Sport) and music (as a recording artist under the stage name Tommy Keyes)

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Simon McGarrigle

Simon is currently living in Galway, Ireland, with his wife and young daughter, and works in a Sales & Marketing role for Finol Oils. Simon hails from Donegal, where his passion for the sport of lifesaving began from an early age and continues to this day. Throughout his teenage and early adult years, he was a Water Safety Ireland Instructor, IRB Crew, Coxswain & Instructor, a lifesaving sport coach & team manager in Donegal. He also instructed for WSI Dublin while he lived in Dublin. He has competed, coached & refereed nationally, and has also been team manager and referee at European & World Championship lifesaving events. Simon has been involved in organising both pool and beach competitions nationally for 10 years and is currently a member of the International Life Saving Federation of Europe Sports Commission as well as being the current chair of the Water Safety Ireland Sports Commission and a member of the WSI Technical Committee

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Natalie McGuinness

Natalie McGuinness is a strategy and marketing professional with over 20 years of experience in various industries including technology, education and professional services.  She is Chief Marketing Officer for Mason Hayes & Curran, with responsibility for the firm’s marketing strategy in Ireland, the UK and USA. Previously, she worked for Vodafone and UCD. She is a three-time graduate of UCD with a BA, MBA, and a Diploma in Corporate Governance. Natalie is also a member of Dublin Chamber Council, Chambers Ireland and the St. Patrick’s Day Festival Board.

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Leo Mahon

Leo is from Co. Kildare and has been involved in Water Safety and other aquatic activities for over thirty years. He is an active Water Safety Instructor and examiner in Kildare.

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John Claffey

John has been an active committee member of WSI Kilkenny for over 20 years as an Instructor, Examiner, Swimming Teacher/Tutor and Cardiac First Responder Tutor , Pool, Beach and IOW Lifeguard Tutor, First Aid Responder Tutor and Pool Risk Assessor, Water Safety Awareness Tutor. During this time John has served as a member of the Lifeguard Commission and as Chair of Water Safety Awareness Working Group. John is an elected Council Member of Water Safety Ireland, and Chairman of the Rescue Commission, IRB and a member of the Technical Committee.

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Melanie Cullen

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Paul Burke

Paul has been involved with water safety for nearly 40 years. He has held many positions since 1984 on the Cork Area Water Safety Committee such as Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary and Fund Raising Officer. He spent 7 summer seasons (1984 – 1990) working as a Beach Lifeguard on Inchydoney Beach.

Paul is a qualified Examiner, Instructor, Risk Assessor, Poolguard Provider, Beachguard Provider, Surf Lifesaving Referee & Swim Teacher Tutor. He is the current chair of WSI’s Swimming Commission and has sat on a number of Commissions of WSI and ILSE since 2000, such as the WSI Sports Commission (2000,2001,2002), WSI Lifesaving Commission (2003,2004), WSI Education Commission (2016), WSI Audit & HR Commission (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021),  ILSE Development Aid Commission (2000 – 2005), ILSE Auditor (2004,2005) and the WSI internal auditor since 2016.

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Paul Devins

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Dervla Quinn

Dervla is a practising solicitor and member of the residential tenancies board disputes committee. She is a year round swimmer active in Greystones Co. Wicklow swim community. In 2018 she was rescued from the sea which inspired an interest in promoting water safety.

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Mary Plunkett

Mary has worked in financial services for over 25 years across a diverse base of institutions in Banking, General Insurance, Life and Pensions and Funds. Working primarily within pillars of Strategic Planning and Governance, Mary has built vast experience having worked with leading financial services clients at exec level.  Mary holds a Diploma in Company Direction with Distinction from the Institute of Directors, an MSc Investment & Treasury from Dublin City University and is a qulaified accountant. Mary also holds the Association of Compliance Officers in Ireland leading qualification and is a qualified Data Protection Officer.

Working in Risk management & Compliance for many years, Mary has in-depth experience in design of Risk & Compliance Governance Frameworks, monitoring upstream regulation, Compliance Monitoring Programmes, Compliance Roadmaps, setting Risk Appetite and Risk Policy and establishing governance programmes to manage same. Mary has valuable experience in engaging with diverse stakeholder groups to deliver transformation programmes, cultural change, offshoring, management of 3rd party suppliers and contractual commitments.

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Josephine Moloney

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List of Council Members

John Claffey; Paul Devins; Leo Mahon; Simon McGarrigle; Paul Burke; Philip Keleghan; Christine Moloney; Dervla Quinn; Natalie McGuinness; Melanie Cullen; Mary Plunkett; Tom O’Mahony.

Technical Committee

The Technical Committee works closely with Rescue, Lifesaving, Swimming, IRB and the Sport’s Commission. The Commission’s recommendations are forwarded to the Technical Committee for consideration and onward recommendation or otherwise to Council.


  • Co-ordinate and monitor the work of all Technical Commissions
  • Review all Technical Commission recommendations and forward as appropriate all suitable recommendations to Council for approval
  • Review all Lifesaving syllabi & publications
  • Manage the bi-annual WSI Examiners Conference
  • Identify and Prioritise the new projects with Commissions

Audit, HR and Risk Commission

Members:  Tom O’Mahony, Joan Harte, Mary Plunkett, Tom Keating, Melanie Cullen, Evan Duggan


  • Monitoring Expenditure and Income
  • Internal Financial Controls & Risk Management
  • Internal Audits
  • External Audits
  • HR Matters
  • Define an approach for the continuation of management development for both existing and new staff
  • Health & Safety
  • National & International meeting and conferences

Strategic Marketing Commission

Members: Natalie McGuinness, Roger Sweeney, Aidan Collins, Andrea McKevitt, Padraig Judge, Paul McGowan


  • Produce marketing and promotional material as outlined within the S.I., Strategic Development Plan & Business Plan
  • Source forms of sponsorship
  • Market the WSI Brand
  • Standardisation of merchandise – certificates, etc.
  • Standardisation and publication of Books, Manuals, Leaflets, Posters
  • Manage the strategy for Press releases
  • Monitor Press Cuttings
  • Ensure that WSI is well represented at exhibitions countrywide
  • Liaise with RoSPA & the Marine Safety Working Group
  • Promotion of public awareness of Water Safety
  • Assist in organising National Ceremonies, Conferences & Events
  • Represent WSI at LAMA Awards
  • Promote the wearing of Lifejackets.
  • Develop the commercial strand to our organisation; improve branding and PR
  • Analyse drowning statistics

Rescue Commission

Members: John Claffey, Valerie Stundon, Ronnie Horan, Patrick O’Grady, Kevin McCloskey, Graham Kerr


  • Promote Blue Flag safety standards and other aquatic environmental issues
  • Manage Risk Assessments at local, national & international level
  • Manage the VAT Exemption Inspections as per S.I. 249 of 2013
  • Manage the SEIKO JIT Rescue Award
  • Training of CRBI personnel in rescue on inland and maritime waters
  • Liaise with Community Rescue Boats Ireland
  • Carry out usage tests on rescue equipment & review documentation
  • Manage the Open Water Safety Awareness courses

Sports Commission

Members: Simon McGarrigle, Caroline Bentley, James Hassey, Kate O’Donovan, Daniel Wrafter


  • Improve liaison with Swim Ireland in regards to our NGB funding
  • Improve liaison with the Federation of Irish Sport
  • Improve liaison with Coaching Ireland
  • Manage International and National Competitions
  • Train & appoint Coaches, Referees and Officials
  • Ensure all WADA regulations are enforced for our athletes
  • Recommend Sports Equipment
  • Manage International Life Saving Sport & Competitions
  • Promote and develop lifesaving sport in Ireland
  • Liaison with the Olympic Council of Ireland
  • Draw up procedures for all activities and competitions

Lifeguard Commission

Members: Paul Devins, Sean O’Keeffe, Pauline Jordan, Paul Murphy, Shane O’Brien


  • The promotion of efficiency and standardisation of the Lifeguard Service
  • The improvement of national standards for Lifeguards
  • All matters dealing with Lifeguards (Pool, Beach, River)
  • Recommend national standard for all lifesaving equipment
  • The provision of instruction in water safety, rescue, resuscitation and recovery skills
  • Ensure European Resuscitation Council guidelines are adhered to by our membership
  • Liaison with PHECC
  • The provision of instruction in water safety, rescue, resuscitation and recovery skills.
  • European Qualification Framework in Lifeguarding
  • Critical Incident Stress Management

Education Commission

Members: Leo Mahon, Caroline Casey, Ashling Nesbitt, Sinead Weldon, Ciara Gleeson


  • Promotion of measures, including the advancement of education, related to the prevention of accidents in the aquatic environment
  • Maintain and develop training and water safety awareness programmes within the Irish Educational System.
  • Develop a Transition Year water safety programme
  • Develop the Teachers Training Courses
  • Development of further FETAC  awards
  • Review and update all Children’s welfare, protection & educational documents
  • Arrange seminars for Designated Liaison Persons
  • Liaise with the Dept of Education to maximise water safety awareness training and public awareness programmes.
  • Manage, monitor and enforce best practices in accordance with Children First and our own Code of Ethics for children and all relevant legislation pertaining to child welfare and protection.

Swimming Commission

Members: Paul Burke, Breda Collins, Deirdre Webster, Clive Seawright, Ameilia Reily, Darren Ryan


  • The provision of instruction in Swimming in order to teach lifesaving
  • Train & examine Swimming teachers and Tutors to National Standards
  • Manage the Annual Water Safety Area Committee Officers Conference
  • Improve membership and communication with WSAC’s
  • Monitor standards of Governance of WSAC’s
  • Represent WSI at IFSTA
  • Ensure WSI is represented on the White Flag Jury
  • Implement a programme of risk assessments in swimming pools
  • Evaluate the number of Swim Certificates in WSI
  • Review all swimming related documents and update as necessary

Commercial Development

Members: Christine Moloney, Dervla Quinn, Mark Kiely, Seamus O’Neill



Members: Colm Dempsey, Jocelyn Cunningham, Ita Richardson, Pauline Jordan



Members: Clare McGrath, Philip Keleghan, Jennifer O’Neill, Karen Morton, Joan Harte, Roger Sweeney


Life Governors

Members: Martin O’Sullivan, Lola O’Sullivan, Brendan McGrath, Buddy Cuddihy, Shay Coogan


Inshore Rescue Boats (IRB) Commission


  • Develop a syllabus for training lifeguards in the use of IRB’s
  • Arrange training courses for Lifeguards in the use of IRB’s
  • Assist in the management of the WSDO’s Conference
  • Manage National & International IRB Competitions
  • Arrange for safety cover at all WSI events & competitions where such cover is required.
  • VHF Radio short range courses.

Working Groups

Suicide WG

Open Water Awareness WG


Swimming Pool RA WG

Strategic Development Plan WG


Internal Auditors: Tom Keating, Paul Burke

National DLP: Ashling Nesbitt