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Family ordered to stop protecting home from falling into sea

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Sharon Shevlin looks out on concrete bollards that mark the spot where the rest of her garden used to be at Portrane

Sharon Shevlin looks out on concrete bollards that mark the spot where the rest of her garden used to be at Portrane

Sharon Shevlin looks out on concrete bollards that mark the spot where the rest of her garden used to be at Portrane

A family desperately trying to save their home from falling into the sea has been ordered to stop building barriers to keep the waves at bay.

Sharon and David Shevlin and their children lost 20 metres of their garden in two years as erosion took the dunes behind their seaside home.

Stormy weather over the past week took another metre and left their garage perilously close to the edge.

With the help of neighbours, they have been building DIY defences, piling up crates of sand to create a wall in front of the remaining dunes.

Yet they have now been told by Fingal County Council that they will be breaking the law if they keep placing unauthorised structures on the beach.

The council also informed them that they are legally obliged to take down their garage to prevent it becoming a danger to the public.

A distraught Mr Shevlin said he just wanted to save his Portrane strand home and could not understand why the council would not let him.

Homeless

"I have a mortgage on a house that's potentially worthless and if I don't do try and protect it, I'll be paying a mortgage on a house that doesn't exist anymore and we'll be homeless," he said.

"The killer blow is being told to stand back and just let it happen."

The family's next door neighbour's house had to be evacuated in 2018 and collapsed over the following year.

Other neighbours have lost large strips of garden while residents farther along the peninsula have had to bring in rock and stone to reinforce the dunes beneath the only access lane to their homes.

Fingal County Council installed temporary concrete 'Seabees' along part of the beach and this week began a public consultation on a long-term coastal protection plan.

But despite the council's claim that the Seabees have slowed the erosion, local people say the evidence shows otherwise.

They also say they don't have time to wait for a consultation process or protection works that could take years.

The council said the DIY defences were "inappropriate and counterproductive".

"While the concerns of residents are understandable, it is essential that this activity ceases immediately to avoid unforeseen and potentially detrimental consequences."

It added it was working with residents "to assist them in managing structures near the beach which are dangerous or likely to become dangerous".

Coastal erosion is a growing issue around the country. A National Coastal Change Management Strategy Steering Group met for the first time yesterday. It has six months to produce recommendations for tackling the problem.