Swimmers kick up a stink over sewage in popular bathing spots
Dozens of swimmers, kite surfers and other beach users braved strong onshore 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", about 50 protesters rallied at Dollymount Strand last night.
They demanded that Irish Water invest in sufficient infrastructure to prevent sewage overflows during heavy 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 was not going away.
"This just keeps repeating. We're here to say we love Dublin Bay and keep it clean.
"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."
Even though Dublin City Council lifted the swimming ban at Dollymount yesterday afternoon, she fears it's only a temporary reprieve.
"Irish Water isn'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 while the beach had so far maintained its Blue Flag status, she worried it and the rest of Dublin Bay would end up contaminated if nothing was done to solve the problem.
"I get very nervous even 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 were closed to swimmers after heavy rain caused an overflow of wastewater from the city's treatment plant.
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council last Friday advised swimmers to avoid going into the water at five popular South Dublin beaches - Seapoint, Sandycove, the Forty Foot, Killiney and White Rock.
Dollymount beach was also added to Dublin City Council's list of "no bathing" zones last week. Seasonal bans are already in place at Merrion and Sandymount beaches due to concerns over bacterial levels in the water.
Meanwhile, swimming is off limits at two of Co Kerry's top Blue Flag seaside resorts due to high recorded levels of the E.coli bacteria.
Ballybunion North and Ballybunion South beaches were closed to swimmers after high levels of the bacteria from human and/or animal waste were found on Monday.
Kerry County Council said high levels of E.coli indicated in water quality tests taken at the beaches on Monday were the result of "bacterial input from the catchment" associated with the very high rainfall last Saturday.
The Met Éireann weather station at Valentia recorded 28.9mm of rainfall. The council said further tests will be carried out and the notices will be lifted when bacteria levels drop.
It was the fourth time this summer that swimming has been banned on beaches along the Kerry coastline, from Waterville in the south to Cromane in Dingle Bay.
However, the closure of beaches at Ballybunion marks the first time this summer that northern beaches in the county have had bathing prohibitions in place due to the dangerous bacteria.