Furore over Bundoran beach swimming ban

A BUNDORAN businessman has slammed a decision to ban swimming at the town’s popular Tullan Strand beach.
Killian O’Kelly, pictured below, who runs the Turf n Surf surf school in the town was speaking after Irish Water Safety (IWS) carried out a risk assessment at the beach in the aftermath of the death of a soldier almost two years ago.
Tullan Strand is mainly used by surfers and walkers and it is not recommended for bathing, no lifeguards are employed and there is limited car park signage indicating that the beach is dangerous for bathing.
Last July a group of teenage players and coaches from the Fermanagh Super Cup football team were caught up in a strong current which pulled eight of them out to sea at Tullan. This led businesses in Bundoran to take it upon themselves to erect signage warning visitors of the ‘very deceiving beach.’ Donegal County Council had signs in place, but they had become faded and no longer provided essential safety advice.
In August 2016, the body of 27-year-old Corporal Gavin Carey from Co Westmeath was recovered following a week long search. He had been on a training exercise at the nearby Finner Camp and went swimming at Tullan with four other soldiers when he got caught in a strong current and was swept out to sea.
At the inquest into his death, the Donegal County Coroner Dr Denis McCauley said he would be contacting the council, asking them to review safety and signage. Dr McCauley said that while the beach is known to locals to be dangerous and used mostly by surfers, visitors like Cpl Carey and the Fermanagh footballers were not aware of the risk involved. IWS carried out the risk assessment last August and have just issued final recommendations regarding the ban.
But Mr O’Kelly has slammed the decision and argued that what’s needed at Tullan are lifeguards.
Speaking to this newspaper, he said: “This is an illogical result and signage will not prevent another incident at the beach. We need to start preventing near drownings on popular beaches like Tullan and the only way to do this is by having lifeguards on the beach. Many other beaches in Donegal which are much quieter have lifeguards on duty – we only want one who could educate people and prevent any more incidents like what happened to the Fermanagh footballers.”
The Herald contacted Donegal County Council for comment but no response was received at the time of going to press.


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