Coleraine councilor Norman Hillis had put forward legislation to ban dogs from beaches in the area. After a 700 dog protest at Portrush in County Antrim and a flood of objections during the consultation period which ended at the end of April, Hillis announced that the plans have been “shelved” and will probably never be seen again. He has been quoted as saying, “I can categorically say it will not come into force…It certainly got people up in arms, I haven’t seen anything in years that got the blood up as much.”
The legislation would have made all beaches in the area dog-free year-round. Opponents said that the ban would have kept them from some of the most attractive beaches on the Northern Ireland coast line. Business owners in the area feared that the ban would have deterred visitors from coming to the beaches and spending money at their establishments.
The legislation was proposed after complaints about dog litter on the beach. Some people claimed that dog owners would let their dogs run off-leash and not clean up their messes. But long-time dog walkers and beach visitors denied that there was a problem noting that there was much more of a problem with people leaving messes and rubbish on the beaches.
Hillis’ legislation followed similar restrictions in the Newtownabbey, North Down and Belfast City Council areas under the new Dog Order legislation.