UP to €20,000 worth of damage was caused by criminals who broke into the Carlow Sub Aqua Club, where they ripped up copper piping and smashed internal doors.
The clubhouse, near Graiguecullen bridge, which was developed in recent years to the tune of €380,000, was about to be officially opened in April, but the break-in is a major setback for its members. Apart from training scores of people in diving and water safety procedures, the 42 members regularly have to search the River Barrow for missing people.
“This is a real kick in the teeth for us. We try to keep a low profile because of the work that we do; we look after our lads and make sure they’re good mentally. We put a lot of time, money and experience into what we do, only to be treated like this,” a distraught Racey Byrne, chairman of the club, told The Nationalist.
Racey and his brother Paddy discovered the destruction when they called down to check the clubhouse on Saturday morning. The front door had been kicked in, internal doors were destroyed and copper piping had been torn off the heating and filtration system. Holes had been kicked into the walls, while eight oxygen tanks and four specialised diving jackets had been stolen. Many of the members keep their diving gear at home, so Racey is still trying to ascertain how much equipment was taken.
The members are particularly upset because of the huge investment they’ve put into the clubhouse itself. They previously consulted with the gardaí on how to keep the building secure and followed all of the gardaí’s advice, but the premises was still targeted.
“Someone went to a lot of bother to do this much damage. And the internal doors were kicked in, even though we left the keys in them,” Racey pointed out.
The premises was about to be officially opened by deputy Jennifer Murnane O’Connor in a few weeks’ time and the club was going to go on a recruitment drive for new members. The vandals’ attack has set the club back both financially and practically.
“It’s sickening and completely senseless,” added Paddy. He said that the thieves could have taken the copper without destroying the newly-installed filtration system, which cost the club €16,000, but instead caused thousands of euro worth of damage to the system.
Racey and Paddy immediately called the gardaí when they discovered that the club had been broken into on Saturday morning.
Gardaí sealed off the scene and forensically searched the clubhouse, while they also carried out door-to-door enquiries.
“This was an attack on the community as much as on the club. They do such an amazing service to our community. This was a nasty thing to do,” a garda spokesperson said.
Carlow gardaí are appealing to anyone who may have seen anything suspicious happening around the clubhouse last week. Contact them on 059 9136620 if you have any information.