Tropical storm Ophelia batters homes in Summercove outside Kinsale. EamonnFarrell/

Coast Guard warns public to stay away from the sea after people spotted in stormy waters

Most people are obeying the Coast Guard’s warnings to stay away from the coast.

AUTHORITIES AND EMERGENCY services have warned people to stay away from coasts as Storm Ophelia thunders across the country.

Despite numerous warnings to the public that they should stay indoors, with the Taoiseach calling it a “matter of life and death”, people have been spotted outside in severe weather conditions.

Earlier today, two windsurfers were rescued by the Coast Guard after they got into difficulty at Dundalk Bay, Co Louth.

The Happy Pear business men were harshly criticised after they posted a photo of them heading out for a morning swim – they later apologised and removed the photo.

More recently, people have been spotted at Salthill walking, swimming and taking selfies, close to the time when ex-Hurricane Ophelia is set to become its most powerful.

People have criticised those who have headed out near the coast today, saying that they’re putting both gardaí and coast guard members’ lives in danger.

The Irish Coast has this evening made a direct plea for people to stay away from exposed coasts, tweeting:

We continue to advise the public to stay away from exposed beaches cliffs & piers, harbours & promenades during storm conditions.

Despite this, Gerard O’Flynn of the Irish Coast Guard said that they’re part of a minority, and the vast majority of people are abiding by the extreme weather warnings.

“The two earlier incidents were innocent errors really. The bad weather hadn’t hit yet, and they were confident about what they were doing.

“But it’s not the day for heading out to sea, where our resources could needed elsewhere.”

Gardaí in Galway echoed that warning earlier, saying that people were still out along Salthill’s promenade with children and animals earlier.

“Please stay off the roads and please stay indoors,” was the message they issued.

The Rosslare RNLI lifeboat was also launched today to rescue three men in a 10 m yacht who had been trying to get back to shore since last night.

The men were finally rescued at 2 pm today after being battered by the storm about 10 miles from shore.

“The crew had been trying to get to safety since the early hours and had attempted to gain entry to a few harbours but were constantly pushed back by winds and tides,” RNLI said this evening.

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

LIVE: ‘A matter of life and death’ – Two people have lost their lives in Storm Ophelia

Read: Rescue 116 and lifeboat crew tasked to windsurfers in difficulty off Louth coast

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