Three beaches lose Blue Flag status in 2002 awards


Three popular beaches have lost their blue flag status this year. They are Seapoint in Dublin, Spanish Point in Co Clare and Counsellor's Strand in Dunmore East, Co Waterford.

The news is particularly disappointing for Dublin which, despite its many beaches, has been awarded only one blue flag in 2002. This compares poorly to counties like Kerry and Mayo which each received 13.

The international blue-flag awards, administered in Ireland by An Taisce, are an environmental and safety award given to beaches and marinas which meet a number of criteria relating to water quality, management - including litter control - and safety.

A total of 75 beaches and four marinas were given the awards at a reception in Dublin yesterday. The overall number of blue flags awarded was the same as in 2001 but among them are beaches which lost their blue-flag status in previous years and have now regained it.

Those in this category include Mullaghmore in Co Sligo, Clare Island, Co Mayo, and Keem beach in Achill, Co Mayo.

The only beach in Dublin which can fly the blue flag this season is Portrane.

An Taisce said Seapoint had lost its flag because of high levels of faecal streptococci, an indicator of human or animal waste. Killiney, which lost its flag last year, failed to regain it this year.

Ms Patricia Oliver, director of An Taisce's education unit, said Downings, a popular beach in Co Donegal, had been turned down because of concerns over traffic management. "We sympathise fully with the Donegal local authority. They have made strenuous efforts and put considerable resources into trying to solve the problems which are caused by selfish and inconsiderate beach users. As usual this is a small minority but they can make a beautiful beach a dangerous place by insisting on driving their cars in areas where they put people at risk."

She said Counsellor's Strand in Dunmore East had lost its status because a stream leading into it had been chlorinated to remove pathogens. No application was received this year from Spanish Point in Co Clare. An Taisce had removed its flag last year as a result of a nearby stream being chlorinated.

The four marinas awarded blue flags are Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford; Fenit Marina, Co Kerry; and Kilrush and Mountshannon Marinas in Co Clare.

Ms Oliver appealed to beach users, especially those using disposable nappies, to take their litter home with them. "It really is disgraceful behaviour to leave used nappies on beautiful beaches or buried in sand dunes where the wind will quickly expose them," she said.

She also expressed concern over jet skis and dune buggies which can destroy the precious dune systems of some beaches.