Lifeguards ‘now assigned to Culdaff Blue Flag beach,’ council confirms

Donegal County Council has confirmed it has ‘now assigned beach lifeguards on Culdaff Blue Flag beach.’

It has emerged that there have been no lifeguards assigned to Shroove Blue Flag beach over the summer season, while lifeguards to Culdaff have been recently assigned.

Donegal County Councillor Albert Doherty told the Journal he had received a number of calls from concerned beachgoers and said there was an ’expectancy’ lifeguards would be on duty on Blue Flag beaches.

He said he had been informed by council officials that signage was to be erected at Shroove beach informing people there were no lifeguards in situ and said that while lifeguards to Culdaff were being delivered ‘better late than never,’ plans must be put in place to ensure this does not reoccur next year.

Culdaff beach.

In response to questions from the Journal, DCC said there had been a low number of applications to a lifeguard recruitment drive - a possible consequence of the Covid 19 pandemic and outlined how the absence of a Leisure Centre in Inishowen impacted on the number of suitably qualified candidates.

A spokesperson said: “There are currently 43 Lifeguards employed in the county. At the beginning of every year, the council undertakes a recruitment drive to have Temporary Beach Lifeguards in place at the beginning of the Summer bathing season which runs from the beginning of June until the middle of September. Beach lifeguards must have a beach lifeguard award and successfully complete a pool test, they must also be Garda vetted and pass a medical. Beach Lifeguards generally work from 12 noon until 6:30 PM six days a week and pay per hour is €14.56 for a junior Lifeguard to €16.48 for a senior Lifeguard.

“Applications for the 2022 bathing season were low in Donegal, as they were nationally, and particularly low in the Inishowen area. This may be a consequence of the Covid pandemic leading to a reduction in the amount of pool training taking place generally, and the absence of a leisure centre in Inishowen has had an impact on the number of suitably qualified candidates in the Inishowen area. So much so, that in May the council undertook an additional advertisement and recruitment campaign specifically targeting Inishowen and this resulted in the identification of an additional two suitably qualified candidates. However, the recruitment process is time consuming given the requirement for Garda vetting, medicals, etc. The council has now assigned Beach Lifeguards on Culdaff Blue Flag beach.”

Colr Doherty agreed that the lack of a public swimming pool in Buncrana was having a ‘knock on effect’ in training and recruiting lifeguards for Inishowen.

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“We need to examine and resolve this issue for next year and it needs to be addressed as soon as possible. There is an expectation that people will be on duty on Blue Flag beaches.”