herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Bathers ignore 'no swimming' signs on polluted beaches

Lifeguards watching swimmers at Skerries Beach yesterday Photo: Steve Humphreys
Lifeguards watching swimmers at Skerries Beach yesterday Photo: Steve Humphreys

Poor water quality failed to deter Dublin beach-goers from taking a dip at some popular bathing spots.

In spite of signs forbidding swimming at four North Dublin beaches affected by "unacceptable levels of bacteria", the Herald saw more than two dozen swimmers, mostly young children, in the water.

A suspected sewage discharge at the weekend is believed to have polluted the sea water at Skerries south beach, Balbriggan Front Strand, Rush North Beach and Loughshinny Beach.

Two of these beaches - Rush and Loughshinny - also failed water tests carried out by the Environment Protection Agency in April.

"I don't know what these people are thinking," said one concerned resident near Rush North Beach, pointing at those swimming in the water.

"People talk about getting their seafood sourced locally… well I'd dare anyone running a Michelin-star restaurant in this country to serve up a Dublin Bay prawn."

One Dutch family staying in the caravan park beside the beach said that they had not seen any warning signs when they came down this morning, but said that a local schoolteacher had approached them and told them of the dangers posed by the contaminated water.

"She told us that there had been some kind of incident at the weekend and that the water wasn't safe. We just came down from the path leading from the park, so we didn't use the main entrance and didn't see the sign."

Speaking as her daughter played close to the water in Loughshinny Beach, one mother told the Herald that she "had no clue" about the "Do Not Swim" notices placed up by Fingal County Council following a suspected sewage leak late last week.

Washed

"I didn't even think to look at the noticeboard. I had heard something about the water not being great up at Rush, but since there's been no one here stopping people from getting in the water, I assume it was safe."

According to Fingal County Council, following a routine inspection of its beaches on Friday afternoon, "Do Not Swim" notices were erected at Loughshinny Beach and Rush North Beach after a "significant amount of deleterious material was washed up on both beaches".

A spokesperson for the North Dublin council said these "precautionary measures" would remain in affect until test results show the water quality is of a standard suitable for bathing. "[While] these beaches are not closed and remain open to the public… we would appeal to people to respect the notices as they have been issued to ensure that the health of bathers is not compromised," he said.

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