Tolan opposes plan to ban dogs off lead on Bettystown Beach
Fine Gael Councillor for Laytown/Bettystown, Sharon Tolan has described a proposal by Meath County Council to change the Foreshore Byelaws 2010 and ban dogs on the beach without a lead as 'unfair and extreme.'
The updated plans were brought before the Laytown-Bettystown Municipal District Council meeting earlier this month. She is now calling on the public to make their voices heard at upcoming public consultations on the matter saying that dogs and horses on the beach are not the real issue.
"The National Parks and Wildlife Data has proven that winter feeding birds on the coastline have increased significantly over the last number of years, they are obviously not having an impact with the current byelaws.
"If it's the health and safety in relation to a dog jumping on a child, for example, there is a byelaw there already that says your dog must be under control. There has never been a fine that I'm aware of in relation to that byelaw.
"There are a lot of responsible dog owners that clip their dogs back on their lead when they approach another dog owner or someone with a child. I wouldn't dream of bringing my dog into an area where are children playing. It seems very unfair and very extreme."
If passed, it will have a massive impact on the area according to Tolan: "I've had emails from people that have moved to the area specifically because they can exercise their dogs on the beach off-leash. There are people there who use that beach all year round for their own mental health and for the good health of their animals.
Sharon enjoying some "off lead" time with her dog
"I know one lady living in the area whose dogs have represented Ireland and she's just devastated at the prospect of not being allowed have them off the lead."
The Fine Gael councillor believes a compromise should be considered,
"Even if that restriction is just three months of the year or from 11 am, the same as the restriction with the horses it would be a compromise or enforce the current bylaws and ensure that if there is an irresponsible dog owner then fine them, that option is available but just hasn't been enforced.
"The bigger issue is cars out of control. At 5 pm last Saturday evening we had a guy doing doughnuts up and down the beach. I was at Gormanston Beach the other day and there was another individual tearing up and down there on a motorbike doing wheelies, dogs and horses are not the issues here.
"This notion that there is some kind of wild behaviour on the beach because of dogs and horses is total nonsense and is coming from people who are not on the beach day in and day out. I'm 20 years here walking this beach and I've had three pets. My dog is very well behaved and returns immediately when called."
Meath County Council is proposing 6 material changes, which also include restricting the area of beach that horses can have access to and a complete ban on horse-drawn carts and sulkies.
"We have a lot of horse breeders and trainers in the county who have a reputation around the world as being the best and I think it will have a big impact on them if there is a restriction."
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.