The recent good weather has provided many of us with the opportunity to indulge in a rare treat – enjoying relaxing on our fantastic beaches. For too many days of the year the coastline is almost deserted except for hardy locals or dog walkers because of our inclement climate. So when the sun shines and the winds abate, the call of the sea becomes urgent and people head for the shore.
Sitting on the sand, listening to the waves breaking on the shoreline and watching the young children build their sandcastles is the perfect idyll for many people. So imagine how distressing it was for people at one of Northern Ireland's premier beaches to see wholesale drinking going on in full sight of the children. A staggering 1,000 booze bottles were later gathered up.
Different people will have different ways of enjoying their time on the beach, but surely everyone should take heed of those who share the same stretch of sand. That is not the place for drunken yobbery or even polluting the atmosphere with the noxious fumes from portable barbecues. Such behaviour shows a complete lack of respect for others. Indeed the drinking broke the local by-laws.
Think of how people behave when on the continent on their summer breaks away. There is none of that type of behaviour, largely because they know it would not be tolerated by authorities. Obviously they don't believe the same sanctions will be applied here. This is not about spoiling anyone's fun, but ensuring that everyone can enjoy a day out at the seaside without fear of running into drunken mobs.
It is also about respecting the environment. How often do we see tons of rubbish dumped on our beaches after a sunny spell? Broken bottles or buried barbecues are a real risk to those using the beach and should be disposed of carefully. Our beaches are shared spaces which should be enjoyed by everyone and maintained as places for recreation – even if the weather doesn't always co-operate.