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20/09/2021

Donegal County Council called to act on beach controversy


Obstruction of public right of way trumped by map it has been claimed

Donegal County Council called to act on beach controversy

The locked entrance to Castlegoland Beach

Locals in the Portnoo-Narin area in west Donegal have claimed that a long standing dispute over access to a beach can now be resolved thanks to the discovery of new documents that will back up their argument to restore matters to the way they were.

Castlegoland Beach is part of Narin and Portnoo, a beautiful resort forming part of the Wild Atlantic Way. Up until 2019, golfers and pedestrians shared this Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

The beaches, comprising the main beach, known as Narin Strand, Castlegoland Beach and Portnoo pier are the primary amenities in the area. Narin & Portnoo private golf links,  which is also an important amenity, forms part of the headland between the two beaches.

In a statement this afternoon the ‘Save our beach at Castlegoland’ committee say their campaign to reestablish access to this beach, which they claim was blocked by commercial developers in 2019, has been vindicated by the discovery of a deed and map confirming the public right-of-way since 1867 and before.

They claim access was denied a few years ago by the erection an illegal four strand electrified fence and a locked security gate (on Public Road, LS 7543-2) to obstruct public rights of way,

"Castlegoland Beach is privileged in that legal entitlement of public access to the beach has been explicitly recorded in all County Development Plans and Road Schedules dating back to the 1930s.

"The records specifically reference this public right-of-way and confirm public vehicular access to Castlegoland Beach

The committee also claimed attempts to restore public access to Castlegoland beach fell on deaf ears.

They also criticised what they termed Donegal County Council's inaction on this matter.

"Local authorities are required by law to protect and preserve public rights of way. However, despite notification to Donegal County Council in July 2019, and numerous correspondences since, the locked gate still obstructs this public right of way, and the illegal electric fence has not yet been removed.

The campaign group has engaged in protracted but futile correspondence. The continued inaction by Donegal County Council has left many feeling frustrated not least because our local authority and our legally elected representatives are expected to honour their commitments to public service."

But now the committee claims there is light at the end of the tunnel.

"Despite the frustration caused by the local government inertia, the #SaveOurBeachAtCastlegoland campaigners remained undeterred, and their efforts have been rewarded!

"In addition to all public records confirming the existence of this public right-of-way, it has now been confirmed that a map has been found, confirming its exact location and a Deed of Conveyance acknowledges its existence from as far back as 1867.

"The Deed of Conveyance expressly includes and details the Castlegoland public right-of-way, with the location clearly indicated on the map referenced in the deed.

The indisputable evidence of the existence and location of this public right-of-way, also references various pedestrian access routes," said their statement.

The #SaveOurBeachAtCastlegoland campaign group has sent this updated information to the council adding this was a perfect opportunity for it to uphold and demonstrate its commitment to the people of Donegal by ensuring their access to this wonderful beach.

"The pandemic has re-emphasised the importance of our beaches to the health and well-being of the people of Donegal, now more than ever our public representatives and public service must protect these amenities and rights in the public interest as they are required to do - and restore public access to Castlegoland beach," added the committee statement.

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