Ban on swimming imposed at Malin Head pier

The sign erected at the pier.
The sign erected at the pier.

A ban on swimming at Portmore Pier in Malin Head has been met with anger and calls for it to be lifted.

A sign was recently erected at the pier by Donegal County Council, which warns users of the slipway and slippery surface and issues a warning that states: ‘No Swimming.’

Portmore (Port Mor) Pier is a popular destination for both locals and holiday makers, many from Derry, who regularly swim there, particularly during the summer months.

Swimming lessons for children have also been taking place there for almost 50 years.

Ali Farren, who is from Malin Head and owns Ardmalin Caravan Park, questioned the council’s decision and lack of public consultation.

He said: “If there had have been public consultation the people of Malin Head would have been able to tell how we’ve swam there for years. This pier is the hub of our community. It’s a safe harbour and the fishing community and swimmers have used it in harmony for many years. Fishermen have access to the harbour all year and during the summer, take extra care and attention.”

Mr Farren said people are aware of the dangers of swimming, but did not agree with an all-out ban at Malin Head pier.

He said: “A sign saying: ‘Swim at your own risk,’ would be enough. We’ve had people learning to swim here for generations. Irish Water Safety held their week here during the summer and Splash Swimming put on two extra weeks of lessons. But what insurance company is going to cover anyone now to provide swimming lessons there? I recommend to so many people that they go and swim at the pier. I can’t do that now without making myself liable. The pier is a tourism provider, locally. It’s our water park and it’s the hub of our community.”

Mr Farren pointed out how Malin Head is a “marine community.”

He said: “We depend on our young people learning to swim and to be safe. Our nearest public pools are in Derry and Letterkenny.”

A petition has now been set up, which calls on the council to lift the ban. It can be found at www.avaaaz.org.

In response to the ban, Donegal County Council said: “Portmore pier is one of the busiest piers in the control of Donegal County Council in terms of fishing activity. We are trying to indicate and inform the public of all the hazards they are likely to encounter at the piers. Portmore pier is not a suitable location for swimming simply due to the movement of fishing boats along the pier and that is why the sign indicates “no swimming” This refers to the pier only and not surrounding area.”