The Blue Flag is an international environmental award made to beaches and marinas thoughout the world that demonstrate good environmental standards and good sanitary and safety facilities. The award is made by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), an independent non-profit organisation. The Blue Flag award is in place in over 45 countries internationally. You can find information on the beaches and marinas in Ireland that have received awards at blueflagireland.org.
In Ireland, the Blue Flag is operated by An Taisce. An Taisce also operates a Green Coast Award scheme for beaches that meet EU bathing water quality standards but also retain their natural, unspoilt environment. You can find out the water quality at Ireland's designated bathing areas at splash.epa.ie. There is a Blue Flag worldwide app for smartphones.
A Blue Flag award is awarded to a beach or marina for one season (July to August) only.
The award of a Blue Flag to a beach depends on compliance with 32 criteria covering the following aspects:
There are 24 criteria that a marina must comply with. They cover the same areas of water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, safety and services. A marina can be part of a larger harbour with other activities, if it is clearly separated from other harbour activities.
The criteria must be adhered to in order to gain a Blue Flag. If the criteria are not fulfilled during the season or the conditions change, the Blue Flag may be withdrawn.
The Blue Flag criteria are minimum criteria. A country can choose to have stricter criteria.
The relevant local authority applies for a Blue Flag award for its beaches. The local authority in question files the application form (with enclosed documentation) and sends it to the National Jury. For applications for beaches, approved bathing water data from the previous year has to be submitted as documentation together with the application as well.
The marina owner is responsible for applying for a Blue Flag award for a marina
To be eligible for the Blue Flag a beach/marina has to fulfill all imperative requirements, and in addition, the fulfillment of a maximum number of guideline criteria is taken into account.
The National Jury consists of:
The National Jury evaluates applications for compliance with the Blue Flag criteria and gives an approval or rejection on the national level. In special cases, the National Jury can propose a dispensation. The approved applications and the dispensations are then forwarded by the National Jury to the International Jury.
The International Jury consists of:
The International Jury carries out an evaluation before it finally decides which beaches and marinas will be awarded the Blue Flag for the season.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000. The Phone Service will operate Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm during January 2017. You can also visit your local Citizens Information Centre.