What's it really like to be a naturist in Ireland?

Pat Gallagher, President of the Irish Naturist Association, explains...

The Irish Naturist Association (INA) was founded in 1963 when a small group of Irish people met while on holiday in naturist surroundings in Europe.

Back in Ireland they met again and decided to set up a naturist organisation - the Irish Naturist Association.

Advertisements were placed in Health and Efficiency, a naturist publication, and the British Naturist newsletter. Members were recruited and meetings at private venues were arranged where they could socialise and enjoy some nude time.

The INA has always been run as a social, non-sexual organisation, with volunteer committees whose job it is to look after the interests of its members and canvas for facilities and a greater acceptance of our lifestyle among the general public.

The association has quietly gone about its business over the years since its founding. However, in the mid 1990s the group decided to write to local authorities in coastal regions asking that areas be set aside for 'clothing optional' use on beaches that naturists had already been frequenting.

This was a prolonged exercise with many letters going back and forth between the INA, local authorities, and members of the Dail. The campaign generated a lot of publicity but some authorities still declined the proposal immediately. Others said they could consider it but didn't know how it would stand up in law. 

There is still no beach in Ireland that is designated for use by naturists. In fact, apart from Malta, Ireland is the only country in the EU that does not have an official and legal nudist beach. For that reason, Irish naturists continue to use beaches that are off the beaten track today. 

THE LAW

There are many very old laws concerning public nudity, which can be seen on the INA website, and it is unlikely any of them would stand up in a court of law today. 

Up until 2014 the law under which a person might be prosecuted for public indecency was amendment 18 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1935.

This law was struck down in an appeal court as unconstitutional. In 2014 the law reform committee set out to review and make changes to legislation concerning the sexual offences act.

In October 2014 the INA made a lengthy submission to the Minister for Justice & Law Reform, TD Frances Fitzgerald, with copies to all members of the law reform committee to allow for decent exposure as opposed to indecent exposure.

A year later, the INA received a letter from the office of the Minister for Justice and Law Reform laying out the proposed changes to the law concerning indecent exposure as outlined in Section 39 of of the sexual offences act 2015.

The 2015 revised law, section 39, subsection 1, provides for an offence of “exposure” where a person exposes his or her genitals and intends to cause fear, distress or alarm to another person. The letter also states that the previously sought allocation of areas for clothing optional use is a matter for local authorities and the department of environment.

As a result, we have decided to make submissions to local authorities once again concerning the matter. 

Following comments from the former mayor of Wexford on national radio about naturists using Curracloe beach, we decided to contact Wexford County Council first. We have yet to receive a response. 

It is our intention to make submissions to other councils where beach areas are currently used by the naturist community. If local authorities have to make bye laws to facilitate the designation of beaches or other outdoor facilities then so be it.

We feel that as Ireland is the only EU country other than Malta that does not allocate outdoor facilities for the ever-growing naturist community as well as those living or holidaying from other EU countries are being treated like second class citizens.

The INA is affiliated to the worldwide International Naturist Association, which allows members to attend meetings with naturist federations from many other countries. These meetings vary from sports events, swimming galas and the more mundane stuff, like formal meetings, international congresses, etc.

The Irish Naturist Association held such a meeting in September 2014 in the sleepy village of Drumshambo, Co Leitrim. Naturists travelled from 33 different countries around the globe. The congress was a resounding success and was welcomed by the people of Drumshambo and its surrounding areas with open arms. Not one person objected even though the event was well publicised locally and nationally.

This week, The Moncrieff Show is going on the road and hosting a special edition of Movies and Booze... In the nude. Sean Moncrieff will be stripping back the layers and uncovering the culture of naturism in Ireland, speaking to guests from the INA. 

 

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 Pat Gallagher, President of the Irish Naturist Association

To learn more: www.irishnaturism.org