DFI join 2019's Blue Flag Beach Jury
January 31 2019, 10:22am
DFI’s woman in the South, Áine O’Sullivan, joins the jury for 2019’s Blue Flag beaches this week.
This means she will have to look at 83 stunning beachscapes. While others might be distracted by views or the sea wind in their hair, Áine will be looking at toilet facilities, signage, parking, pathways and access on and off the beach.
And frequently just on paper with detailed notes. But it will all lead to better access for people with mobility issues and disability in future years. Because these are the things that really make a difference to people with mobility issues trying to enjoy at day at the sea.
Áine explains, “DFI are delighted to join the An Taisce jury and my role will be to suggest how the accessibility score for Irish beaches can be improved. In Ireland we do well on the other, internationally set criteria such as water quality but accessibility has been poor”.
An Taisce’s spokesman said, “We see accessibility as an area for improvement for 2019’s Blue Flag beaches and we welcome Áine joining our jury. She brings much needed expertise from DFI on disability and access”.
“Often it’s the getting on to and off the beaches that make them no-go areas for people with even a little bit of a mobility issue. Anyone with a baby buggy will get it, as will most of us as we get older”, said Áine.
DFI’s Community Development team often work with local authorities to open-up Irish beaches. (You can find a list of 2018’s accessible beaches on our web site.) Beach wheelchairs, while very welcome, are not part of Blue Flag criteria. Several popular beaches that do not have a blue flag have a beach wheelchair.
The benefits of being by the sea and taking the sea air has been acknowledged even by Economic and Social Research Institute, ESRI, who found that those living closer to the coast had a lower risk of depression than people who lived farther away.
Over 13% of the Irish population have a disability. Our beautiful beaches and landscape should not be off limits to them. DFI’s joining the Blue Flag jury is a step towards making that a reality.