Council denies responsibility for coastal signs, life rings
Mayo County Council said it will review signage along the Atlantic Drive coast following the recent death of a Finnish student, but has said it is ‘not responsible’ for the erection of signage on ‘private property’.
The inquest into the death of Finnish student, Markus Nieminen recommended the erection of signs warning of the dangers of going too close to the water, as well as the installation of life rings along the coast.
Mr Nieminen, a 23-year-old engineering student from Waterford Institute of Technology, drowned on November 3 when a wave swept him into the sea along the Atlantic Drive at Cloughmore, Achill. The student was with a group of friends who had stopped to take pictures of the waves crashing against the rocks.
Ray Hughes, Officer in Charge of the Achill Coast Guard, told the Coroner of south Mayo, John O’Dwyer that there should be life rings along the Atlantic Drive. If there was Mr Niemenin, may have been saved, he said. The inquest heard that Mr Nieminen had tried to swim towards the shore and his friends had ran to a nearby house to get a rope.
Mr O’Dwyer said he will write to Mayo County Council to see what could be done to ensure that another tragedy is avoided. When he asked Mr Hughes if the council had ever been approached in the past, he replied they had but said requests had ‘sometimes fallen on deaf ears’.
Sergeant Gerard McNally felt that signs should be located where people park their cars along the Atlantic Drive so they know of the dangers before going near the edge.
Mr Joe Beirne, Director of Services for the Achill area told The Mayo News they will look at whatever the Coroner recommends, but he stressed that the Council are not responsible for signs off the roads.
“We will review the signs but we don’t have responsibilities for signage on private property or life buoys on private property. We have signs along the road warning of high cliffs in English and Irish, and we will look at them, but we are only obliged to erect signs along the road side and not on private property. We have an equally dangerous coastline from Killala and around Ballycastle, and we have to ask ‘where do we start and where do we finish?’,” he said.
The inquest also raised the question of whether the signs should carry warnings in a multitude of languages. Mr Beirne said pictograph signs would be a better option, but stressed that there was no pictograph in the road-sign manual which warn of the dangers associated with this tragedy.
Local councillor Micheál McNamara said he had raised the issue of signs with both Mr Beirne and the County Manager, Peter Hynes, and feels there should also be a national review of signs for coastal areas.
“It is now time that this is examined at national level … There is no point [erecting warning signs] in one area when it can easily happen in another coastal area,” he said.
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