Concerns have been raised about a review which could see the “Royal” uniform worn by Newry lifeguards replaced with a “corporate green” alternative.
At present, qualified lifeguards across swimming pools managed by Newry Mourne and Down council wear the distinctive red and yellow uniform of the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS), signifying the wearer has passed professional life-saving exams.
A council spokeswoman confirmed that a working group has been set up to review the uniform.
“No decisions have been taken regarding uniforms for the new leisure department,” she added. “A working group has been set up, tasked with looking at options for a consistent uniform approach for all leisure facilities, an option which also includes the RLSS UK red and yellow uniform.”
Martin Symcox, Director of IQL UK, the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s trading subsidiary, said red and yellow are the normal colours.
“We recommend red and yellow [for uniforms] as it is the international standard for lifeguard uniform and is detailed as an example in the Health and Safety Executive swimming pool guidance,” he said. “The guidance does say that lifeguards need to be distinctive and recognisable.
“We are always pleased to hear of lifeguards wearing our uniform with pride but it is down to each leisure provider and many have their own.”
Ukip councillor Henry Reilly voiced his “deep concern” at the council’s review.
“I have been approached by pool staff who are concerned that they could lose the prestigious red and yellow RLSS uniform that is a badge of pride for life-saving staff,” he said. “They have told me that they will have to adopt a green corporate uniform. However, I suspect this is another move to remove any semblance of the council being a UK entity, as the RLSS uniform carries the Royal crest.”
When contacted yesterday, UUP councillor David Taylor, Sinn Fein councillor Terry Hearty and SDLP councillor Michael Carr had not heard of the council review.
In a statement, Sinn Fein said: “Decisions in relation to the overall corporate policy of the council are discussed openly and transparently by elected representatives at the appropriate committee meeting. Councillor Reilly seems determined to discover conspiracy theories in all aspects of our council services.”
Newry and Mourne councillors previously made headlines for naming a playground after IRA man Raymond McCreesh.