Christmas swimmers need assurances that water quality in Dublin Bay is safe

Ivana Bacik TD
22 December 2023

Labour leader and Dublin Bay South TD Ivana Bacik has called for her Dublin Bay Authority legislation to be enacted in order to ensure improved water quality for swimmers and other local residents around the Dublin Bay area.

With thousands expected to take to the sea over the Christmas week and on Christmas Day in particular, Deputy Bacik said that swimmers’ health and safety must be protected through the introduction of year-round water quality monitoring.

Deputy Bacik said:

“I will be joining the many thousands of people who will take to the Bay for a swim, no matter what the weather, this Christmas Day. It’s an integral part of the tradition of Christmas for many swimmers and nature lovers alike. However, despite the huge increase in popularity of sea swimming in Dublin Bay, there has been an abject lack of focus from Government on measures to protect the biosphere.

“As a regular and year-round sea swimmer myself in the South Wall/Poolbeg and Seapoint areas in particular, I know that people are particularly concerned about the failure to improve water quality for our year-round swimmers. Year-round monitoring, particularly during the Christmas season, is hugely important to protect swimmers’ and public health.

“For too long we have taken Dublin Bay for granted. Not long ago 300,000 tonnes of sewage sludge were dumped in the Bay every year. Today there remain real concerns about wastewater discharges from the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment plant and the potential damage that dredging of the port is causing to the ecosystem. We need a joined-up approach to the future protection and enhancement of Dublin Bay.  We need to act now, and my proposed legislation represents a necessary first step to change how we treat Dublin Bay and realise its remarkable potential.

“Last December, the Dáil debated the Dublin Bay Bill 2021, which I was proud to introduce as a private members’ bill. If passed, it would establish a statutory Dublin Bay Authority charged with preserving the distinctive character of Dublin Bay and protecting its ecology as a coastal resource. It would improve the amenity of the Bay for sea swimmers, sailors, walkers, and all of those who want to use the Bay area.

“The authority would have a mandate to:

  • Propose and promote policies and priorities for the protection and enhancement of the environment of Dublin Bay and of the natural habitats and wildlife in and around the bay;
  • Co-ordinate, promote and support strategic planning and sustainable development in and around Dublin Bay;
  • Make recommendations to regulate and control pollution in and around the bay;
  • Promote public interest in and respect for Dublin Bay as a public amenity; and
  • Co-ordinate the activities of public bodies and other organisations and persons in matters connected with the performance of its functions.

“As well as water quality, there’s a need to focus on the amenities for swimmers. There’s a raft of regeneration work that the Authority could consider. Better changing facilities and public toilets at swimming spots, the crumbling dereliction of the old Sandymount and Blackrock baths, adequate paving on the pathways to and from popular swimming spots. These are the types of public amenities that we need to see restored and enhanced around the Dublin Bay area.

“Many walkers and nature lovers will enjoy some downtime by the Bay taking in walks from Howth to Sorrento Point over the Christmas and New Year break. The environmental protection of these areas would be a key priority for the new Authority, particularly to protect the natural habitats and wildlife in and around the Bay.

“All Dubliners have a strong connection to the body of water that stretches across the Bay. Dublin Bay is one of the greatest resources our city has. We all have strong connections to the Bay and many of us share great memories of it too. It’s the view that often welcomes us home when flying into Dublin, it’s where many of us learnt to swim, sail or paddle. For others it’s the location for the opening chapter of Dublin’s great novel, ‘Ulysses’. We must ensure that stronger structures are put in place so that we can continue to enjoy our beautiful local amenity  over this Christmas and for many, many Christmases to come.”

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