An investigation by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board into a boating incident on the River Shannon in Limerick in February 2019, in which a 12-year-old girl was seriously injured, has criticised the absence of proper safety planning and preparedness by Athlunkard Boat Club.

Amy Mulcahy from Annacotty in Co Limerick was one of five young rowers on board an Olympic style 'quad' rowing boat, which went out on a training session that morning, accompanied by a coach in a safety boat.

The quad boat got into difficulty and struck the midstream supports at Thomond Weir and the boat capsized, throwing all five rowers into the water.

Four crew members were rescued from the water by the coach in the safety boat, but Amy became submerged in the water for some time after her hair became entangled in the boat.

She was rescued by the fire brigade's swift boat, which was launched to help in the emergency. She suffered serious injuries and spent several months in hospital.

Amy and her family were subsequently featured in the RTÉ programme 'DIY SOS Ireland - The Big Build', in which volunteers completely transformed and adapted her home as she returned from hospital.

The MCIB said the absence of a comprehensive risk assessment prior to the training session, the inexperience of the junior crew, the lack of rescue and safety equipment on the safety boat, and the complacency of the boat club towards the purpose of the club's safety boat and equipment were all causative factors in the incident.

Despite being tied back in a ponytail, the young rower's long hair trapped her to the capsized quad and was a causative factor of her subsequent injuries.

The hazard presented by Thomond Weir was underestimated by the Coach, Club safety office and officers of the Athlunkard Board clubs. This underestimation of the hazard was a contributory factor to the capsize of the Quad.

By identifying Thomond Weir as a hazard, the Coach may have taken precautions resulting in avoidance of the capsize incident and its outcome, the report states.

The novice rowers on board the quad boat were not wearing personal flotation devices, nor were there spare devices on the safety boat.

The report recommends that Athlunkard Boat Club immediately carry out an audit of all river obstacles and hazards in the club’s area of activities to produce a hazard and obstacle list.

It also recommends that it carries out a risk assessment of its on-river activities, and an audit of the type and scale of safety and rescue equipment on board its safety boats during river training sessions, and of the capability of the safety boats themselves.

The MCIB recommends that Rowing Ireland review and clarify its club safety policies and implement a programme for the effective dissemination of its safety recommendations and code of practice.

In addition, it calls on Rowing Ireland to implement a programme of safety courses for club safety officers and coaches, with particular focus on hazard identification, risk assessment and risk mitigation processes.

It said it should also appoint a communications officer with specific responsibility to open and maintain communication with clubs about their safety advice.

The Mulcahy family have confirmed they have received a copy of the report and are assessing its contents.

Their priority now is safeguarding Amy's welfare for the future.