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Wednesday 16 October 2019

'We love Dublin Bay, keep sewage away', protesters chant on beach

Swimmer Benedikta McSharry at last night’s protest at Dollymount Strand
Swimmer Benedikta McSharry at last night’s protest at Dollymount Strand

Dozens of swimmers, kite-surfers and other beach users braved strong winds to protest against the recurring closure of beaches in Dublin Bay due to sewage overflows.

Chanting "We love Dublin Bay, keep the sewage away", around 50 protesters rallied at Dollymount Strand last evening.

They demanded that Irish Water invests in infrastructure to prevent sewage overflows during rainstorms that have resulted in numerous beach closures this summer.

Green Party councillor for Clontarf Donna Cooney, who organised the protest, said the problem of overflows is not going away.

Guarantee

"This just keeps repeating. We're here to say we love Dublin Bay and keep it clean," she said.

"Even with a new sewage treatment plant, there's no guarantee it won't keep on happening. We need storm water to stop getting into the sewage system."

Although Dublin City Council lifted the swimming ban at Dollymount yesterday afternoon, Ms Cooney fears it is only a temporary reprieve.

"Irish Water aren't doing their job. We used to have a Blue Flag beach here and I didn't think we'd go back to having polluted water here," she said.

Benedikta McSharry (49), who swims regularly at Portmarnock's Velvet Strand, said that while the beach has so far maintained its Blue Flag status, she worries that it and the rest of Dublin Bay will end up contaminated if nothing is done to solve the sewage problem.

"I get very nervous even just thinking about what will happen to the sea. It's really very worrying," she said.

Much of Dublin Bay was declared a no-go area for swimmers last weekend.

It was the fourth time this summer that city beaches had been closed to swimmers after heavy rain caused an overflow of wastewater from the city's treatment plant.

Last Friday, Dun Laogh- aire-Rathdown County Council advised swimmers to avoid going into the water at five popular south Dublin beaches - Seapoint, Sandycove, the Forty Foot, Killiney and Whiterock.

Dollymount beach was also added to Dublin City Council's list of no-bathing zones last week, while seasonal bans are already in place at Merrion and Sandymount beaches owing to concerns over bacterial levels in the water.

Lifted

The bans have since been lifted at the Forty Foot, Seapoint, Sandycove, Whiterock and Killiney.

The closure notices came after Dublin City Council announced there had been "a significant overflow from the storm storage tanks at the Ringsend Wastewater treatment plant into the River Liffey during the early hours of Friday morning".

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