Visitors flout 5k rule and leave their waste behind - numerous cars turned away from tourist hotspots
Hordes of visitors broke the Covid-19 5k distancing restrictions as they descended on various County Wicklow beauty sports over the weekend.
Over 70 vehicles were turned away by Garda checkpoints for breaking the travel-limit in a worrying sign that members of the public are beginning to flout restrictions put in place to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Illegally parked vehicles at Magheramore and Brittas Bay were also either towed away or issued with a Fixed Charge Notice.
A group of campers from outside the county camped overnight without permission on privately owned lands in Lough Dan on Saturday night, and left the area strewn with rubbish, bottles of beer and camping equipment, despite promising to leave the location spotless once they departed.
Sean Byrne, who runs Lough Dan House, unexpectedly came across the group on Saturday evening as they camped at a secluded beach area overlooking Lough Dan lake.
'It's a very pretty little beach right down in the valley - or at least it was before the weekend,' said Sean.
'There were eight of them and they came down on Friday. It's a difficult area to get to and takes about 1.5k to even get there. They were from Dublin so they broke the 5k travel limit. They were also all right on top of one another and weren't paying any attention to the two metres social distancing. I came across them on Saturday and they were coming right up to my face as I was speaking to them. I had to keep standing back all the time to ensure there was something like two metres between us.'
The group said they were being picked up on Sunday morning and that they would ensure no mess or rubbish was left behind.
At 11 a.m. on Sunday morning Sean returned to the site to find it covered in litter and with all the camping equipment, including tents, left behind.
'It was an older gentleman who assured me they would tidy everything up before they left. I took faith in him but in the end they just walked away and left everything here. They had brand new tents and all the latest camping equipment and they didn't bring any of it home with them. There were dozens and dozens of discarded drink bottles and cans. Food was strewn all over the place and they had started around four camp fires. They showed absolutely no respect for the locality or anyone living here,' he added.
Last year Sean had to clean up lands belonging to him on four different occasions due to campers refusing to clean-up after themselves.
'This has been going on for years but it sees to have started early this year. To be honest with you, I don't know where I would be without the Pure Mile truck which comes to collect all the rubbish. Otherwise, it would prove very costly to carry out the clean-ups. It's especially disappointing that all Covid-19 restrictions were broken over the weekend. God send me rain and maybe a flooded valley would keep them away.'
More than 70 cars, motorcyclists and cyclists were made to turn back at different checkpoints by Wicklow Gardai for flouting the 5k restrictions by attempting to visit areas such as Glendalough, Devil's Glen and Crone Woods. Motorists from Naas, Clongriffen, Edenderry, Arklow, Roscommon and Wexford were among those ordered to return home.
Vehicles parked on double yellow lines at Brittas Bay and Magheramore beaches were towed away or issued with a Fixed Charge Notice. Gardai also confirmed that a number of the vehicles were registered to addressed well beyond the 5k limit.
There were further reports of a group of youths gathering on private Convent lands in Wicklow town on Sunday. Up to 25 youths were involved, with no sign of anyone adhering to social distancing. Bags of rubbish consisting of empty beer bottles and discarded foods were dumped on the site and discovered on Monday morning.
Gardai also had to call to a house in Dunbur Park, Wicklow town, on Sunday night after complaints from neighbours about a large party with loud music blaring.