Belfast Telegraph

Pictured: 'Madness' as youths scale Northern Ireland cliffs without safety gear

'Think of those that would risk their lives for you'

Youths scaling cliffs at Kinbane Near Ballycastle. Pic Kevin McAuley/McAuley Multimedia
Youths scaling cliffs at Kinbane Near Ballycastle. Pic Kevin McAuley/McAuley Multimedia
Youths scaling cliffs at Kinbane Near Ballycastle. Pic Kevin McAuley/McAuley Multimedia
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Youths taking to cliffs without safety gear or proper training around Ballycastle have been told to think of those that would risk their lives to save them should they get into difficulty.

It comes after two youths - thought to be teens aged around 16 - were caught on camera climbing the cliffs at Kinbane, close to the Co Antrim town on Sunday.

The Coastguard described the images as "concerning".

The pair, a male and a female, appeared to be wearing casual clothes of tracksuits and coats with no helmet or ropes.

One eye-witness said they were "hanging on like spiders" and there didn't look to be anyone else with them.

"I didn't think it was real," he added.

The man - who asked not to be named - said in all his life living on the coast he was left "flabbergasted".

"Professional climbers would not have been anywhere near Kinbane. Fair Head would be popular with climbers so I have seen the professionals and this was not it," he continued.

"It's madness. Had they fallen it's the Atlantic Ocean. They wouldn't last long and they'd likely hit a rock on the way down.

"There's been a lot of snow and rain over the past week and the grass is just sitting there so you put weight on it and it's away from under you.

"It's a dangerous spot as it's difficult for the lifeboat to get to so most likely they would have to wait on the Coastguard helicopter and that can be a 45 minute wait. And then those resources are tied up if someone else gets into difficulty.

He added: "We all make mistakes - but this is just madness and so irresponsible. They clearly don't think anything of themselves or those that would put their lives at risk in trying to save them."

Causeway Coast and Glens UUP Councillor Joan Baird, who lives close to the location, said she was shocked and called on those to desist.

"Just consider those that would, without thought, risk their lives to come out to rescue you if you get into difficulty," she said.

"I am not against climbing so long as they wear the right safety gear and are trained. But this does not look to be the case.

"Over the summer there would nearly be daily call outs. I was out walking today and there were paths that I felt were not safe to walk on given the amount of slippage we have had after the snow last week. The surfaces are in poor condition and very difficult.

"I would call for those doing this to stop."

Ryan Gray Senior Maritime Operations Officer for HM Coastguard added: "The recent photos taken at Ballycastle are concerning, we want people to enjoy themselves at the coast by making sure their visit is one to remember and not one they’d rather forget.

"We strongly recommend you do not attempt to climb up or down cliffs unless you are properly equipped and trained to do so, and don’t attempt to climb cliffs as a short cut. If unequipped for a climb it only takes one slip or a loose rock for it to end in tragedy. Remember, if you think someone might be in trouble along the coast or out at sea please call 999 and ask for the Coastguard."

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