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'Galway Harbour at Dawn'
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Salthill & Silverstrand Retain Blue Flag Status for 2015

Jun 4, 2015

Galway City Council is delighted to have been awarded International Blue Flag Awards and the National Green Coast Awards for both Salthill and Silverstrand Beaches for the 2015 bathing season. The awards were presented by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Alan Kelly, T.D, at an awards ceremony held on Ballinskelligs Beach in Kerry in the last week.

Today, Tuesday 3rd June, at Salthill, the Mayor of Galway, Cllr.Donal Lyons formally raised both flags for the two beaches in the city. He expressed his delight at this event, and thanked all staff for their work and commitment in achieving this status for the city. The benefits of having Blue Flag beaches will be seen throughout the summer season, with the influence of tourist and locals who can enjoy having world class beaches.

To gain a Blue Flag, beaches have to meet specific strict criteria covering; water quality, beach/marina management, safety, services and facilities, environmental education and information. The Blue Flag for beaches is only valid during the official bathing season and for one season at a time.

The treatment plant at Mutton Island in Galway has led to major improvements in water quality in Galway Bay in recent years, highlighted by the award of a Blue Flag for Silverstrand in 2005, and Salthill in 2006 and the maintaining of the blue flag at both of these beaches in subsequent years.

Both Salthill and Silverstand beaches play major roles as leisure, recreation and coastal amenity areas for the city of Galway. The awarding of blue flags for both beaches is a wonderful achievement for the city, and a huge asset for its residents and our many visitors.

Speaking at the awards ceremony last week, Minister Kelly said, "Blue Flags represent excellence. They are a clear signal of quality and are something to be cherished. A blue flag flying at a particular location means that it has achieved excellent water quality to standards set by European and national Regulations, and a very high grade across a wide range of other criteria"

He added that, " This is testament to the sterling efforts of local authorities, An Taisce and of local communities in ensuring that their beaches meet the standards of excellence required for a Blue Flag or Green Coast Award',

Ms Annabel FitzGerald, Coastal Programmes Manager said that, "The Blue Flag is an award of excellence, the beaches and marinas that have achieved this accolade have complied with strict criteria relating to water quality, safety, facilities for visitors, beach management, environmental education and the provision of information."

"The Green Coast Award recognises beaches for their clean environment, excellent water quality and natural beauty. These beaches may not have the necessary built infrastructure required to meet the criteria set for Blue Flag status however they are exceptional places to visit and enjoy our rich coastal heritage and diversity."

An important aspect of the Green Coast Awards is the involvement of Clean Coasts groups of which there are now 440 comprised of thousands of volunteers throughout the island. Ms FitzGerald, paid tribute to these groups stating that, "Clean Coasts groups contribute significantly to the protection of Irelands coast, in 2014 over 800 beach cleans took place and these groups removed over 500,000 items of marine litter from the marine environment."

"Local Authorities, Marina Operators and local communities should be commended for their efforts in achieving Blue Flag and Green Coast award status today" Ms FitzGerald concluded.