01 Oct 2022

Three saved at Inishowen Blue Flag beach with no lifeguards

Donegal County Council says it has had difficulty recruiting lifeguards for Inishowen’s two Blue Flag beaches

Three saved at Inishowen beach with no lifeguards

Concern has been raised at the lack of lifeguards at Culdaff beach

Three people have been pulled from the water in two separate incidents at one of Inishowen’s busiest beaches which has been left without lifeguards for most of the summer.

A young boy and two teenage girls were rescued by bystanders after being caught in rip currents at Culdaff beach during last week’s spell of hot weather.

Inishowen’s two Blue Flag beaches have been left without lifeguards for most of the summer, prompting fears about water safety and the future of the coveted status at Shroove and Culdaff.

Concern about the absence of lifeguards at the two beaches has been raised following an incident when a young child got into difficulty in a current at Culdaff beach last week.

Lifeguards have not been in place at the two beaches through June, July and August despite Blue Flag criteria requesting it is “imperative” that the beaches are lifeguarded on weekends in June, daily in July and August and weekends in September unless an Irish Water Safety risk assessment states otherwise.

The six-year-old young boy from Derry was dragged under by a rip current on the main beach last Wednesday and had to be pulled from the water by a man who was visiting the beach.

In a separate incident at a cove at the far end of the beach on the same day, two teenage girls who got caught in a current were pulled from the water by two visiting surfers, one from Derry and one from New Zealand, who were alerted by their cries for help.
Donegal County Council confirmed to the Inish Times that it is still “seeking to assign beach lifeguards on Shroove and Culdaff Blue Flag beaches”.

The council said lifeguards have been assigned to the 10 other Blue Flag beaches in the county. Applications for temporary lifeguards for this year’s bathing season were low in Donegal “and particularly low in the Inishowen area”.
The council said it undertook a second recruitment drive for lifeguards in the peninsula.
An additional two suitably qualified candidates have been identified but the council added that the recruitment process is time-consuming.

“The council is now seeking to assign beach lifeguards on Shroove and Culdaff Blue Flag beaches," the council said.

In a statement, the council said the low number of applications could be due to Covid-19 reducing the amount of pool training taking place generally. It said the absence of a leisure centre in Inishowen has had an impact on the number of suitably qualified candidates in the Inishowen area.

Local councillor Johnny McGuinness said the appointment of lifeguards at Culdaff has come too late “with the summer nearly over”.
He said that he expected lifeguards to be on duty at Culdaff on Monday, but added he fears the lack of lifeguard cover at the two beaches could put their future Blue Flag status in jeopardy.
“Whatever way you look at it, the system is not working and the recruitment is not working. It has been left too late and it should have been put to bed well before the swimming season started.”
He said the appointment of lifeguards needs “to be taken well in hand before” next year’s swimming season starts.

“I could not imagine a Blue Flag beach maintaining its Blue Flag if it does not have lifeguards in place - I think that is one of the main points of a Blue Flag beach, you must offer a safe bathing environment for families and kids.”

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