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DRIVERS ALL AT SEA OVER BEACH BAN

BEachgoers have vowed to step up their fight against a permanent ban on cars on Dublin's Dollymount Strand.

Dublin City Council has decided on an outright ban and has issued a report declaring the popular Dublin beach should remain a no-go area for drivers.

A temporary ban has kept all vehicles off the beach since June and the Parks Service now wants the ban to be "long term".

Fine Gael Cllr Naoise O Muiri (right) told the Herald there has been no consultation with councillors or the public about permanent banning all cars from driving onto the vast five-kilometre beach.

Blocked

"The council report indicates a long-term ban of all vehicles - but there's been no consultation," he said.

"This affects everyone, including families with children. I will raise this matter in September and I believe a compromise can be found.

"Both access routes, at the Bull Island end and the causeway end have been blocked since June. A compromise would be to allow access at Bull Wall and block off the causeway end permanently," he said.

Independent Cllr Damien Farrell said a permanent ban on vehicles would hit hardest the elderly and people with mobility problems.

"I think a permanent ban will be broadly welcomed but a lot more must be done to improve access for the disabled to the beach," he said. "There is currently disabled parking at the beach, but it is still not adequate for them to use the place without difficulty," said Cllr Farrell.

"Elderly or disabled people will never see the sea at Dollymount unless something is done now to improve their access to the beach," he said.

A council statement referred to a recent incident where a car stuck in the sand led to a woman being injured. Due to the "haphazard nature of parking, emergency vehicles had difficulty attending to the incident".

The report stated: "For this reason and following strong advice from the gardai, management in the Parks Service made a decision to cease vehicular access to Dollymount beach with the exception of emergency and other authorised vehicles.

"This recent incident was the culmination of a number of incidents over many years where the 24-hour access to the beach from the causeway has resulted in anti-social activity and concern for public safety.

"Vehicular access to the beach has caused several challenges to gardai over the years both from a public safety, crime prevention and traffic management perspective."

However, the council acknowledged the difficulties experienced by those whose movements are impaired.

It stated: "If there are individuals or groups who are incapacitated and cannot traverse the 50m distance from the roundabout to the beach, City Council Parks Service staff who manage the wildlife conservation, lifeguarding and beach maintenance will meet with them to see how their requirements can be accommodated."

Car parking is available along the causeway and at the end of the Bull Wall.

The council acknowledged that regular users who park their cars directly on the beach will be inconvenienced by the change, but safety was the main reason for the decision to cease vehicular access.

"The situation will be monitored," the council said. "However, it is considered that keeping the beach free of motor vehicles... is beneficial in the long term for public safety."

The increasing number of people sea bathing, the success of kite surfing and other recreational activities has created its own pressures with regard to maintenance, public order and public safety.

TERRY PRONE: PAGE 14


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