A proposal to ban dogs and horses from beaches in Co Kerry to comply with international guidelines on the annual blue flag bathing award is meeting with strong reaction.

However, as with other local authorities, it is now being asked to implement the Blue Flag regulations with regard to domestic animals which are backed by the World Health Organization.

In 2021, Kerry along with Donegal has 14 blue flag beaches.

New draft bye-laws out for public consultation now propose that no dogs or horses are allowed between the hours of 11am and 7pm from 1 June to 15 September.

Rossbeigh long beach, where according to Irish mythology Oisín left for Tír na nÓg on the back of Niamh's white horse and popular for both horse riding and dog walking, will be among the popular strands most impacted.

Ian Diamond from An Tasice explained: "The rational for restricting access of domesticated animals to beaches is that amongst the most common hazards in bathing waters are microbial pathogens introduced by faecal contamination from humans and animals."

An Taisce administers the Blue Flag award programme in Ireland on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education.

The criteria in relation to dog restrictions are in place in the 50 countries globally that operate the programme, Mr Diamond said.

The restrictions will not apply to guide and assistance dogs.

Horses will also be banned from Kerry beaches apart from early morning and late evening, it is proposed.

If the rules are not adopted, Kerry will lose some of its blue flag awards, director of Kerry’s services for beaches and water John Breen said.

He said: "An increased emphasis has now been placed on the issue and the jury directed all applicant local authorities to strengthen the delimitation of the Blue Flag area to exclude dogs or to instigate a timeframe outside bathing hours during which dogs can access the beach."

Promenades and car parks outside the beaches will not be affected.

There has been a strong reaction already and while some councillors accept the limitations, Fianna Fáil’s Cllr Johnny Wall, former mayor of Tralee said he could not support the proposal.

Fianna Fáil’s Mikey Sheehy said it had the hallmarks of the "nanny state" .

Independent Cllr Jackie Healy-Rae, said he feared for the tourism economy.

Those with mobile homes on Banna beach would have to keep their dogs "locked up" between 11am and 7pm each day.

Dog owners looked at places that were dog friendly in selecting destinations, Mr Healy-Rae warned.

He described the provisions as "heavy handed" saying people looked for solace on the beach.

Other provisions in the new by-laws make it an offence to fail to comply with a lifeguard’s directions, and a ban on the use of certain inflatable water devices.

Restrictions on lighting fires in dune areas are also being proposed.

Breaches could result in fines of just over 1,900 on conviction in the District Court and an increase on the fixed penalty charge to €75 is being proposed

The laws will be voted on in May after considering the public response.