Members of Castlebar Town Council have called on Mayo County Council to take control of the beaches in Mayo with regard to the provision of lifeguard services, toilet facilities and the drinking of alcohol by members of the public.
Cllr Therese Ruane stated: “I have been contacted by many parents who are very concerned about the lack of lifeguards on our beaches, as was evident last weekend during the good weather. I was also inundated with complaints from people that the toilets at Mulranny beach were locked while the beach was packed with families enjoying the good weather at the weekend.
“Mayo County Council will have lifeguards on duty for the summer months starting in June. We have the best of blue flag beaches throughout the county but last weekend for example, the beaches were packed, the sun splitting the stones, but there was no lifeguard on duty on any of our beaches.
“To remedy this situation, I am calling for an on-call lifeguard duty service to be in place so that if we have a heat wave/good weather prior to summer season that people can be called in to lifeguard the beaches. This would be a very cost effective way to ensure that our beaches are safe and providing jobs for lifeguards and young people at the same time.
“I am also very concerned and was inundated by complaints from people who were at Mulranny beach at the weekend. The toilets were locked for the entire weekend, yet the beach was packed. This is a ridiculous scenario. I called to Mulranny beach one evening since after work and the toilets were still locked. These toilets should be unlocked immediately and made available for the public.
“We have the best of blue flag beaches here in Mayo, we must ensure that they are safe and that the services are made available to the public.
Cllr Harry Barrett also appealed to Mayo County Council to expand its lifeguard service, after receiving a number of complaints that popular local beaches were left without a service during peak times last weekend. Cllr Barrett wants a review of the service and an expansion of hours to cover peak times during the summer on popular beaches.
Cllr Barrett stated: “I have had a number of calls from parents of young children who complain that the lifeguard service was not in place last weekend on a number of our most popular local beaches. This is a major concern and I am demanding that Mayo County Council review the lifeguard service in the county in terms of staff numbers; the way that staff are rostered and coverage of lifeguards at peak times; especially weekends.
Last thing we want is a tragedy — Barrett
“The very last thing we want to read about is a tragedy that could have been averted. Mayo County Council have provided a sterling service for years in this area, and I'm confident that this issue can be sorted if a review is carried out along the lines that I have suggested”, said Cllr Barrett.
In response, Mayo County Council Michael Gavin, stated that the matter was being looked in to by the council. However, he noted that the official bathing season did not begin until June 1.
John Condon, Senior Executive Officer, added: “Mayo County Council provides a beach lifeguard service which covers 11 beaches during the summer season. The summer season commences at the beginning of June and continues until the end of August.
“Mayo County Council has managed to maintain its beach lifeguard service despite the 15 per cent reduction in funding available to the Council in the past three years.
“Local Authorities are unable to provide this service outside of the summer season. The extension of the season would inevitably result in a reduction of the level of service during the summer season as no additional financial resources are available.
“It is also important that individuals using the beaches and parents of children using the beaches remember that the lifeguard service is a supplement and not a substitute for the personal responsibility which all of us have for our own safety. Maintenance works on the toilets are now being completed and they will be opened for the summer season.”