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The local winners of the international Blue Flag Award and the UK-wide Seaside Award have been revealed for 2024. 

Five council areas have been rewarded for their work in maintaining environmental excellence. 

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful announced that 9 beaches and 7 marinas earned the prestigious Blue Flag Award distinction after meeting world-class standards in criteria such as safety, accessibility, cleanliness, environmental education and, for beaches, water quality. 

The local success does not end with the Blue Flag. A further 6 beaches received Seaside Awards, the UK’s mark of quality that ensures visitors are guaranteed to find a clean, safe, attractive, and well-managed coastal stretch. 

Dr Ian Humphreys, CEO of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: 

‘We are incredibly pleased to see so many local beaches and marinas have been successful at this year’s awards. Each flag shows the public that these are sites worth visiting and cherishing. Keeping our beaches tidy is essential to our environmental and economic future. 

I want to thank the many workers across winning sites who helped make this happen. Their work is critically important in making Northern Ireland a place with the best European beaches and marinas.’ 

The Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew Muir said: “I am delighted that once again so many of Northern Ireland’s beaches have received the coveted Blue Flag and Seaside Awards, and that our first-class marinas have also been recognised. These awards are a testament to the hard work and dedication of those who manage our beaches. The awards let our citizens and people around the world know that Northern Ireland is open for business and that our beaches and marinas are clean, well-managed and safe to enjoy.” 

Mayors from across councils, and beach and marina operators were invited to collect the awards at a presentation ceremony at the Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle, on 7th May. The occasion was organised by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, who manage the accreditations locally.  

This year’s awards ceremony was sponsored by the Slieve Donard Hotel, and supported by DAERA. 

The award-winning locations will now have their respective flags in place for the Northern Ireland bathing season, which runs from 01 June to 15 September. 

Notes to editors

Blue Flag Beach Award winners – Benone Beach, Castlerock Beach, Cranfield Bay, Downhill Strand, Murlough Beach, Portrush East Strand Beach, Portrush West Strand Beach, Tyrella Beach, Whiterocks Beach. 

Blue Flag Marina Award winners –Ballycastle Marina, Ballyronan Marina, Bangor Marina, Belfast Harbour Marina; Coleraine Marina, Portrush Harbour and Marina, Rathlin Marina. 

Seaside Award winners – Ballycastle Beach, Ballywalter South Beach, Cloughey Beach, Groomsport Beach, Millisle Beach, Waterfoot

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is a charity working towards the vision of a world where people and nature thrive, by running environmental-education programmes and awareness-raising campaigns, increasing volunteering opportunities and reporting on local environmental quality. Programmes include the national civic-pride campaign Live Here Love Here, Tackling Plastic NI, Tackling Textiles, Carbon Literacy training, and local environmental quality programmes, such as Eco-Schools NI, Blue Flag Award, Seaside Award, Green Flag Award, Cleaner Neighbourhoods and Marine Litter surveys. For more information, visit www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org. 

DAERA Marine and Fisheries Division monitors Northern Ireland’s bathing water quality during the bathing season, which runs from 1 June through 15 September. During this time, water quality is assessed on 20 different occasions at each location.  The DAERA water quality assessment is used to determine which award is applicable.  The Blue Flag requires ‘Excellent’ status whereas the Seaside Award requires at least ‘Sufficient’ under the Bathing Water Regulations.