Councillor Sharon Tolan and her dog Holly on the beach.
Eat Meath Fine Gael Councillor, Sharon Tolan has called on the public to get behind her opposition to a proposal by Meath County Council to change the Foreshore Byelaws 2010 to forbid dogs being walked on the beach without a lead.
The amendments increase restrictions on horses on the East Coast beaches of Laytown, Bettystown and Mornington, and also propose a complete ban on walking dogs off leash at any time.
The proposals were brought before the Laytown-Bettystown Municipal District Councillors at their monthly meeting in Duleek last Thursday 11th July.
Tolan has accused the council of being completely unfair to responsible dog owners, and their pets, by proposing these extreme changes.
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“I have been walking on these beaches for the past 20 years, and I can honestly say I could count on one hand how many times I have witnessed any incidents involving a dog off leash” she said.
“Most responsible dog owners enjoy giving their pet the freedom of off leash exercise, and do so in a mindful way of other beach users. I have witnessed many owners clip their dogs back onto leads when other animals or children are in the vicinity.
“Throughout the year, and especially at low tide, there are times when there are acres of beach for everyone to enjoy, and I passionately believe it is wrong to introduce a complete ban on off leash dog walking. I am appealing to my Council colleagues, and the public, not to accept these proposed changes.
“In relation to horses, the current restrictions are sufficient in my opinion. Horses must be removed from the beach by 11am, and most people adhere to this. National Parks and Wildlife data have shown an increase in winter feeding birds on our beaches, which proves that the current restrictions are not having a negative effect on birds, which is the reason cited by the Council for the extra restrictions.
All we need is the current Foreshore Byelaws enforced, not unnecessary and unfair changes!” said Tolan.
The proposed amendments to the Foreshore Byelaws will be put on public display in the coming weeks, and members of the public will have an opportunity to make submissions.
The Beach Management Committee ran a public poll on this issue back in January and of the 665 people who took part only 100 people (15%) said that dogs on the beach should be on a lead at all times while 502 (75%) said the situation should be left as it is and the existing bylaws requiring dogs to be under control and fouling fines should be enforced.