Northern Ireland

Dogged north coast pet owners to fight beach ban

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Media captionAbout 700 dog owners took to the beach at Portrush in protest at the council's ban

Dog lovers and their pets united in opposition to plans by Coleraine Council to ban dog walkers from a number of areas across the borough.

The move would include some of the most attractive beaches on the north coast.

The council is proposing making the West Strand a dog-free zone all year round.

It follows numerous complaints about animals fouling the beach and owners failing to clean up the mess left by their pets.

On Sunday, many of the dog owners blamed this on a minority and stressed it was not fair to penalise the majority who do clean up after their animals.

Off the leash

But not everybody was impressed by the spectacle of hundreds of people and their pooches taking to the sands.

One local woman said she has watched dog owners letting their animals off the leash and not paying any attention to what they do on the beach.

Others, she said, just covered up the animals' business with sand and walked on.

The woman said she brought her grandchildren onto the beach to play and they ended up stepping in the mess.

Local bar and restaurant owner Willie Gregg said the councils plans would only drive tourists with dogs away from the area and that would have a negative knock-on effect on local businesses.

Coleraine Council has opened the plans up for consultation until the end of the month.

The move follows similar restrictions being applied in the Newtownabbey, North Down and Belfast City Council areas under the new Dog Order legislation.

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