Four beaches lose blue flags

 

Killiney in south Dublin, Portrane in north Dublin and Claycastle in east Cork are among four beaches that have lost their coveted international blue flag status for beach excellence due to poor water quality.

Magherabeg in Co Kerry was another victim of poor water quality as the number of blue flags, which are awarded on the basis of compliance with 27 EU standards, in the country fell for the second successive year.

However, Clogherhead in Co Louth received its first Blue Flag award for 11 years and Greystones in Co Wicklow had its blue flag reinstated.  A further 40 beaches were presented with Green Coast Awards, which are awarded mainly to lesser developed rural beaches, an increase of seven on 2008.

Seapoint in south Dublin, which had its blue flag reinstated last year following a suspension in 2007, did not apply this year because of water quality issues.

This means that the total number of bathing areas and marinas in the State with blue flags now stands at 77, down from 80 a year ago and 83 in 2007. A total of six beaches in Northern Ireland also received blue flags, while four others in the North were presented with Green Coast Awards at an event on Dollymount Strand in Dublin this afternoon.

Minister for the Environment John Gormley, who presented the awards, said the loss or blue flag status for some beaches was disappointing and attributed the deterioration in water quality in some areas to heavy rainfall last year.

“Ireland is faring very well and we have very high standards of bathing water quality,” he said. “I hope that if we have a good summer this year blue flags will return to those beaches.”