Inishowen’s busiest beaches have been without lifeguard cover this summer after Donegal County Council failed to hire suitably qualified candidates .
The local authority has deployed lifeguards to Culdaff, Shroove and Lisfannon beaches between June and September over many years, but not in 2022.
Thousands of people flocked to Inishowen beaches during the recent hot weather, but lifeguards were conspicuous by their absence leading some members of the public to contact this newspaper to express their concerns.
During the recent heatwave, the RNLI, Irish Coast Guard and Water Safety Ireland issued a joint statement urging the public to be mindful of the dangers posed by the sea, and advised people to only swim in areas protected by lifeguards.
While lifeguards have not been deployed to Inishowen’s Blue Flag beaches at Shroove and Culdaff, Donegal County Council says it has employed 43 lifeguards across the country and deployed them to other Blue Flag beaches.
It said it would “seek to assign” lifeguards to Inishowen’s Blue Flag beaches.
It also said that Lisfannon beach, on which the local authority had provided lifeguards even after it lost its Blue Flag in 2016, will not be lifeguarded this summer.
Councillor Martin McDermott said that council has struggled to hire lifeguards this summer, but did deploy one to Caratra Beach at Culdaff on Monda for the first time this summer.
“The council had problems in ascertaining lifeguards this year,” the Glengad councillor said. “There were no applications from Inishowen in the first round of calls for lifeguards.
“They did a second round of advertising and they have gotten a few, not a major amount, but a few.”
“The council is now in the process of putting a panel together, but it was taking far too long.”
He said this issue further highlights the need to reopen the Buncrana Leisure Centre so courses can be run locally.
“At the minute there is a lack of people here with the qualifications to do lifeguarding,” Cllr McDermott continued.
“We are in a bit of a position here in Inishowen where we don’t have the facilities to train people in lifeguarding while other parts of the county do.”