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Thousands of runners & flip flops wash up in Fanore

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*Photograph: Liam MacNamara

Thousands of runners and flip flops from a fallen ship container have been washing up on beaches in Co Clare and the west coast of Ireland.

An unspecified amount of containers spilled off the Maersk Shanghai ship by North Carolina last year with thousands of runners and flip flops uncovered in Irish beaches over the past month, with an additional three pairs washing up in Quilty this Tuesday.

A first discovery was made in Fanore at the end of March with thousands arriving since, none of which are in a fit state to be worn. Other destinations hit with a sudden batch of footwear include Valentia Harbour, Donegal, Connemara, Quilty, Cornwall, Brest, Brittany, Jersey, Azores and Spain.

Liam MacNamara from the Facebook page, Burren Shores Beachcombing and More confirmed that the items belong to Just Speed and Great Wolf Lodge, both companies have been contacted. “I have a contact in Florida who took up the case for me and he made contact with the companies. Nike as far as I know haven’t replied but the other two, Just Speed and Great Wolf Lodge have confirmed that they had a shipment on that boat that lost the containers, they are all very evasive about giving answers of course, they don’t want to admit to anything really”.

Nike have also been contacted regarding the lost shipments who have said, “they weren’t aware of any containers that were missing”.

He has noticed bite marks on some of the runners. “Most of the soles themselves are made from plastic, the material side of it wouldn’t be overly harmful because that would break down but the plastic of course never breaks down and it just gets smaller and smaller, eventually it could end up in fish we would be eating so we could be eating runners in fifty or sixty years,” MacNamara highlighted.

Four years ago, a bundle of ink cartridges first washed up in The Azores and also made their way to North Clare. “We were picking up hundreds and thousands of those for the past few years, they are still coming in as well, little ink cartridges,” Liam recalled.

On what happens with the cleanup, Liam outlined, “Generally it’s left to volunteers to just dump and end up in your rubbish bin or left back on the floor when nobody collects it, generally that is what happens. Back when there was the HP ink cartridges, Hewlett Packard did admit to it at the time and they did take responsibility and they issued an envelope that if you found cartridges you could send them back to them and they did give a donation at the time to different environmental agencies and programmes, I’m not holding my breath that anything like this will happen”.

Newmarket-on-Fergus native, Páraic McMahon is a freelance journalist and broadcaster currently working for numerous national and local publications including The Clare Echo, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent, The Irish Times, RTÉ, TheJournal.ie, The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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