*Photograph: Darren Mangan
Inflatable toys are to be banned from Clare beaches, rivers and lakes.
Clare councillors have backed a proposal by Cllr Mary Howard (FG) seeking the prohibition at beaches, rivers and lakes of inflatable toys “designed for use in swimming pools”.
Senior engineer with Clare County Council’s Physical Development section, Cyril Feeney believed it was “an opportune time” to review the beach bye-laws in the county. “There are currently restrictions regarding the use of leisure craft in the beach bye-laws but following some recent high profile events during the summer months it is perhaps prudent to include the use of swimming pool inflatable toys in the proposed review.
Tragic instances in Mayo, Kerry and Cork were all referenced by Cllr Howard as she put forward the argument for the ban. According to the Mayor of Clare, five local authorities across the country are planning on introducing similar bans. “They have been called inflatable killers. They are meant for the pool in Ibiza not Ballyalla or Killaloe. As late as last week in supermarket, I saw that an inflatable unicorn was down to €5, they are meant for swimming pools not Irish beaches, it is important we create awareness for that”.
Seconded by Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF), the proposal also received support from Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND). “Our beaches are there for the enjoyment of people and their families,” he stated and highlighted how parents cannot afford to take their eyes off children when travelling to such amenities. “There doesn’t seem to be any standard as to their usage. The review gives us the time to enhance what laws are there, there are a number of other activities going on that need to be looked at”.
Greater awareness on the use of lilos and inflatable toys is required, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) maintained. “A lot of parents think when they buy them they will be of assistance to their children if they get into difficulty but they are not life buoyancy aids”. He paid tribute to Council staff for putting lifeguards in place at Ballyalla Lake, “hopefully we can keep that going forward”.
Chief Executive of Clare County Council, Pat Dowling described the motion as “very worthwhile” and acknowledged the tragedies that have occurred. “We need a more secure approach at protecting people’s safety”.