Parents of secondary school children have been asked to supervise their children by a senior council official following incidents of public concern at Mayo beaches.
Martin Keating, acting town manager in Westport, told members of the Westport Electoral Area committee this week that incidents of drinking parties and vandalism at beaches in recent week are generating public safety issues.
Commenting on the Blue Flag awards, which have been lost in Mayo this year at Old Head Beach in Louisburgh and Ross Beach in Killala, Mr Keating stated: “We have had to deal with a disturbing amount of vandalism at Old Head and Bertra Beach in the last week or two. It does seem to have happened since secondary schools got their holidays where we have noticed groups of teenagers on the beaches and they seem to be unsupervised and, at a certain age, there is evidence of alcohol being consumed.
The toilets at Old Head were badly vandalised and it’s a trend we don’t like to see happening. Beaches are there for everybody to enjoy and I would appeal to parents to be more vigilant. When groups of teenagers congregate for drinking it is intimidating and quite costly for the council when they leave litter and damage after them. So I would appeal to parents to be more vigilant about where their young people are and their use of beaches this summer.”
Cllr Peter Flynn said he would not make any apologies for what is going on in relation to drinking on beaches at night time, and even during the day, and proposed that new bye-laws be introduced for gardaí to stop public drinking on beaches.
“Something needs to be done about it. I have no problem with somebody having a good drink so long as they clean up after them. It is also a disruption to people out there kept up at night because of the carry on of a small minority. I don’t know do the bye-laws of drink extend to beaches so let’s give the gardaí whatever bye-laws are required and for prosecutions to take place soon.”
Chairman Cllr Johnny O’Malley said it was bad enough people were drinking on beaches but sad they got a kick out of destroying property.
Cllr Margaret Adams said that “young people will be young people. There is an attraction to go to the beaches and have a few beers but they should have respect for public property.”
Meanwhile the 11 beaches in Mayo awarded a retention of their blue flag status this year are Clare Island; Carramore; Bertra; Mulranny; Dooega; Keel; Keem; Dugort; Golden Strand; Elly Bay and Mullaghroe.