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NI Beach & Marina Awards Judged as Excellent


Northern Ireland’s beaches provide the perfect place for a fun day out and today 7th June, awarding body TIDY Northern Ireland, in association with Northern Ireland Tourist Board announced that eighteen beaches and two marinas will receive awards for meeting tough quality standards. So, with the weather finally hotting up for summer, TIDY Northern Ireland is urging people to take a trip to an award winning beach and dip a toe in the sea or have a picnic.

To help everyone find out where their nearest award winning beach or marina is TIDY Northern Ireland launched a special map at today’s event, which will be available online, via all Tourist Board Information Visitor Centres and at local beaches. The awards comprise of the highly prized UK wide rural and resort Seaside Awards which have successfully expanded into England. Now in its 5th year in Northern Ireland, eight resort beaches and seven rural Seaside Awards will be presented to beaches that meet high standards. The international Blue Flag Award was presented to six beaches and two marinas with both Portstewart and Whiterocks celebrating their 10th anniversaries in the programme. Resort beaches must meet thirty criteria, including Good bathing water quality as set by the EU Bathing Water Directive. The Blue Flag Award operates in a similar manner including meeting the Excellent EU standards for bathing water. Rural beaches must meet 15 criteria, including Good bathing water quality.

The awards were presented on Tyrella Beach Co. Down and ice-cream for the awards event was kindly supplied by Mauds Ice-Cream. Presenting the awards, Environment Minister, Alex Attwood said: “Seaside and Blue Flag Awards demonstrate the commitment of our coastal councils and the National Trust to providing clean, safe, well managed beach facilities for all of our coastal visitors. We have some of the most spectacular beaches anywhere in the world and these awards mark them out as first class family destinations. “Two years ago I initiated a programme of good beach summits to help improve standards around our coast. There is still much work to be done, especially around changing public attitudes to littering. However, progress is being made and I trust that next year even more beaches and marinas will apply for these awards.”

Stephen Finlay, Director of Corporate Development, Northern Ireland Tourist Board said, “NITB is delighted to be the sponsor of the Blue Flag and Seaside Awards 2013. Every year, visitors come to Northern Ireland to enjoy our stunning coastline. Some come to catch a few crashing Atlantic waves on their surfboards, others to cycle the scenic coastal routes and others simply to drink in the views. The safety and cleanliness of our beaches is therefore very important in attracting visitors. We will be encouraging our visitors to kick off their shoes, walk down to the water’s edge and enjoy our fresh waters and warm welcome at one of our 18 award winning beaches!.”

Dr Ian Humphreys, CEO of TIDY Northern Ireland, has welcomed today’s announcements that see 18 beaches and 2 marinas receiving awards for excellence. He said “thanks to the hard work of all our beach operators these are the beaches where you know exactly what you will get in terms of safety, services, information and of course bathing water quality. Whether a beach is flying the Seaside Award Flag or Blue Flag these beaches offer a wonderful experience for local people and visitors alike. And of course the same applies to our marinas.” He also explained that “even more beaches this year would be flying Blue Flags but for the fact that the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) has brought forward new standards on water quality two years ahead of schedule and went on to say that water quality at these beaches remains as good as ever.”

Chairperson of Down District Council, Councillor Michael Coogan commented, “To receive these international awards of excellence shows that both Tyrella and Murlough Beaches are clean, safe, easily accessible and a great place to come on holiday. They boast wonderful stretches of sand which attract many, many visitors and locals each year.” “I am delighted that Tyrella and Murlough Beaches have once again received the Blue Flag Awards recognising all the hard work by everybody committed to making our beach venues attractions we can all be proud of. To have received the Blue Flag award for Tyrella Beach for 16 years in succession and in partnership with the National Trust to have attained for three consecutive years the nationwide award for Murlough Beach is a considerable achievement and I hope will encourage more people to come and experience Down district’s ‘jewels in the crown’ for themselves.”

If you are interested in assisting with beach clean ups or indeed river and lough clean ups, or want to recognise someone who has made a real difference through their voluntary work in this area please contact Patricia Magee, National Coastal Officer, TIDY Northern Ireland 028 9073 6924 or patricia.magee@tidynorthernireland.org. TIDY Northern Ireland also hosts Coast Care Week 20th – 28th July 2013 in association with Coca Cola with fun, family based events going on all over Northern Ireland and an annual photography competition with cash prizes; please see www.tidynorthernireland.org for further details.