Six Irish beaches have failed to meet bathing standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency and were classified as "poor" in their latest report.
Dublin beaches at Merrion Strand, Portrane and Loughshinny were all deemed to have poor water quality, as were Galway beaches at Clifden, Ballyloughane, and Trá na bhForbacha.
The six beaches will now be forced to “advise against bathing” or enforce “bathing prohibition” restrictions in time for the summer. They will also be routinely monitored.
While it was bad news for the beaches concerned, the EPA’s report stated that 130 out of 140 Irish beaches retained very good water quality. 120 were classified as “excellent” or “good” quality, while the remaining 10 were deemed to be “sufficient.”
Though bathing at the affected six beaches is not advised, the report notes that:
"The public can still access and use these beaches but are advised to check current water quality either via the Splash website, on bathing water notice boards at the beach, or from the relevant local authority."
Lead author of the report, Peter Webster advised residents not to be too concerned about the results, saying that water quality is regularly subject to change.
He said: "The important thing to realise is that they're poor because they don't meet the standard set down in the bathing water regulations. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's not safe to swim there.
"The bathing water quality can vary hour-by-hour, let alone day-by-day. These rankings are an average of four years worth of monitoring."
Local authorities and Irish Water will now set about tackling the main sources of pollution at the affected beaches, with a view to improving them to “sufficient” quality.