Local authorities are responsible for bathing water quality in their areas in addition to monitoring bathing water quality and making information available to the public on water quality during the summer bathing season.
Bathing Water Quality Regulations were made in March 2008 (following a public consultation) transposing the EU Bathing Water Directive of 2006 into Irish law.
The Blue Flag Scheme is administered in Ireland by An Taisce (external site) , the National Trust for Ireland, with financial assistance from this Department. It is a voluntary, non-statutory scheme. It is operated by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) – an NGO. The quality criteria set for Blue Flags, and the awarding of a Blue Flag are matters solely for the European Jury of FEE.
To apply for Blue Flag status, a beach must, be a designated bathing area under Bathing Water Quality Regulations and must comply with the guideline standards laid down in the EU Bathing Waters Directive. These two conditions must be met in the bathing season (1 June to 31 August) of the year prior to application.
To gain a Blue Flag, the bathing areas must also comply with additional criteria in relation to the facilities available and general management, at the beach. In addition, evidence of plans for environmental improvements as well as future environmental education projects are also taken into account when the decision to award a Blue Flag is made.