INCH BEACH provided the picture-perfect backdrop today as Kerry County Council raised one of the county’s 14 Blue Flags for the 2017 season. Kerry beaches have again maintained their excellent standard this year with the awarding of 14 Blue Flags for 2017 by An Taisce – The National Trust for Ireland, as announced in recent weeks.

Blue Flags are awarded to beaches and marinas which comply with a very specific set of criteria relating to water quality, information provision, environmental education and beach management. Beaches must also comply with EU bathing water directives to secure the honour.

The following Kerry beaches retain their flags for 2017: Rossbeigh, Ballybunion North, Ballybunion South, Ballyheigue, Fenit, Maherbeg, Kells, Derrynane, White Strand, Ballinskelligs, Banna, Ventry and Inch. Fenit Marina also retains it Blue Flag this year. Green Coast awards have also been announced for Beal Bán, Castlegregory, Littor, Waterville and Ballinskelligs.

Attending the raising of the new Blue Flag at Inch today were the Cathaoirleach of Kerry County Council, Cllr Michael O’Shea; councillors from the South and West Kerry Municipal District; the Chief Executive of Kerry County Council, Moira Murrell; and Director of Services for Environment, John Breen.

Cathaoirleach O’Shea said: ‘Blue Flags are an important indicator of the quality of our beach environment and it is encouraging that Kerry is continuing to set a very high standard in this regard. These flags are a result of a collaborative approach between Kerry County Council, local community groups and beach users who work together to maintain our beautiful beaches and bathing waters,’ he said.
Director of Services, John Breen said that Kerry County Council invests tremendous effort in keeping County Kerry at the top of the Blue Flag league and will continue to invest the necessary resources to ensure the sustainable management of the magnificent beaches along the Kerry coast.

“As we enter yet another busy season at our beaches, Kerry County Council appeals to all beach users to ensure they leave no litter on the beaches of Kerry and to avoid any damage to our wonderful coastal areas so that the county can maintain and improve on its Blue Flag complement,” said Mr Breen.

“Our coastal and beach environments are one of the biggest attractions for locals and tourists alike and we all have a role to play in ensuring that the high standards we have achieved in recent years are maintained.”

Above: Pupils from Castledrum National School helped raise the Blue Flag on Inch Strand. Raising the Blue Flag were Gavin Sheehan, Eden Murphy, Carla Evan, Tirna Murphy, Kielan Foley, Dylan Ladden, Jamie Ladden, Sophie O’Connor. PICTURE: VALERIE O’SULLIVAN