Brittas Bay in Co Wicklow: no plans to cut services

BUDGET cuts will continue to affect the country's beaches this summer as thousands prepare to flock to the seaside for cheaper holiday breaks.

Last year, financial pressure on local authorities led to a shortage of staff for beach cleaning, while serious question marks surrounded the provision of life guards.

However, this year there will be no threat to the supply of around 500 rescue staff, while grants for local authorities to treat tourist areas will be of huge benefit towards efforts to keep beaches clean.

Crippled finances led to last year's disastrous June bank holiday weekend when tonnes of rubbish, including nappies, broken glass and disposable barbeques, was left strewn on sand dunes around the country.

However, this year a majority of local authorities say they are not anticipating any trouble cleaning up after beachgoers ? even the record numbers expected if the weather is as good as it is forecast to be for the next few days.

But most councils concede funding will remain a problem. Fingal County Council said that it had received a grant and would provide a "limited" litter control service this year. It said: "It must be emphasised strongly that (we) do not have the same resources, either financial or staffing, as in previous years."

It stressed the growing importance that visitors to beaches take more responsibility for their own waste.

"The ability of Sligo County Council and other local authorities around the country to keep beaches free of litter is hampered in the current year by a lack of resources," a Sligo council statement said.