By Diarmaid Fleming
Angling is meant to be relaxing, but those unwinding at Killiney's beach are wound up - over plans to ban beach fishing in south County Dublin.
The council said there had been complaints
As they wait for a tug on their lines on the east coast of Ireland, anglers said the proposal has come as a complete shock and has mystified them.
Irish Federation of Sea Anglers and Angling Council of Ireland secretary Hugh O'Rorke said he could not follow the council's reasoning.
"I've been fishing on this beach for at least 25 years, and in all those years we have never had a serious argument never mind a confrontation on the beach.
"I'm totally at a loss as to the reasoning behind this," he said.
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council has issued detailed proposals making it the first local authority in Ireland seeking to ban beach angling.
In its new "Draft Beach Bye Laws", the council classifies fishing as a "nuisance" - a description which has infuriated anglers - and seeks to ban the sport from all the beaches in its jurisdiction.
It wants to limit the activity to just two small harbours, near the coastal village of Dalkey.
The council says the proposed bye laws are "in response to a number of safety concerns expressed by beach users" in recent years.
Hugh O'Rorke said there had never been a confrontation
"The council has a duty of care towards all users of our beaches in the county and public safety is at the top of our agenda," it said.
Tom Lillis questioned the basis for the ban, saying he and his fellow anglers avoid areas popular with other beach-users such as swimmers.
"People don't want to fish where there's someone swimming because it creates a disturbance to the fish. So it really is not an issue," he said.
The chairman of the Irish Federation of Sea Anglers, Brian Prendergast, said the proposal sets a new precedent for councils seeking control of beaches.
"The foreshore of Ireland was entrusted to the people of Ireland in 1922, when it transferred from the (British) Crown to the Free State," he said.
"The people of Ireland have a right to the foreshore. If you go to the beaches of Italy or parts of France or the Mediterranean, you can see beaches railed off where you have to pay to get in.
"That would be a shocking thing to happen here.
"This is the thin edge of the wedge if councils are given the right to ban and issue these kind of regulations on how the beach is to be used, even in the interests of what they call health and safety.
"I think that's a red herring," he added, with no intended irony.
Angling in Ireland is heavily promoted by state tourist agencies to attract visitors.
Anglers' groups say the proposed ban is already making waves with their counterparts abroad, and runs counter to investment in tourism.
George McCullough said there could be an impact on tourism
George McCullough, the Irish representative of the European Federation of Sea Anglers, said his European colleagues were shocked when he told them of the plans to ban beach fishing in a country famed for its angling.
He said that many would no longer visit Ireland to fish if the ban takes hold, costing the country tourism revenue.
"They felt too that if the ban took hold on an Irish basis, then it could - like the smoking ban first introduced in Ireland took hold on a European basis - lead to restrictions on access to their beaches throughout Europe," he said.
The council said that its aim is to "accommodate all users whilst at the same time providing an environment that ensures health and safety for all".
In response to the anglers' criticism, a council spokeswoman said that the draft plans were part of a consultation and that all views would be listened to before a decision would be taken by the council on the new regulations it would adopt for beaches.