Skerries South Beach has regained its blue flag this year thanks to the work of locals who have taken it upon themselves to keep it litter free.
A voluntary group asks residents to take responsibility for an area of the beach under their Adopt-a Beach initiative and commit to keeping it litter-free throughout the year.
Emily Diebold, who pioneered the scheme five years ago, said: “It’s a huge boost to see the blue flag raised again.Skerries is known for its beautiful beaches and to have the international recognition of a blue flag award again is wonderful.”
The beach lost its blue flag in the 2013 awards but the organiser said that she is confident that they will hold onto it this time.
The Adopt-A-Beach scheme is a community effort which involves most of the seaside town’s residents in some way.
Forty-eight families and five schools have taken charge of keeping the beach clean along with the Skerries Sea Scouts, the local youth club and the town’s rugby club.
Emily Diebold said that volunteer numbers have been growing continuously over the last five years and added that that the plan is to end up with “so many people picking up litter on the beach that there will be nobody dropping it”.
The group organises two big annual clean-ups in spring and in summer with hundreds of volunteers taking to the shoreline to clean up the town’s famous beaches.
Speaking at the award ceremony, which took place in Skerries, Co Dublin, Minister for Environment Phil Hogan expressed his delight at the country’s beaches adding 15 extra blue flags this year.
The minister praised the efforts of those involved with keeping the country’s beaches in good condition.
“Behind each of he 80 recipients lies a team of people who worked hard to make the grade and to each and every one of them I extend my sincere congratulations,” he said.
Storms earlier threatened to damage the Skerries’ beach’s chance of regaining its blue flag but the group, along with Fingal County Council, managed to combat the effects of the terrible weather in time for the awards.
The Blue Flag award is administered by An Taisce and must meet a total of 32 criteria for bathing waters.