Council defends its role in litter-offence jailings
A LOCAL authority has washed its hands of the imprisonment of three men who left rubbish at a recycling bank, saying the decision was "a matter for the courts".
All three men were jailed for non-payment of litter fines after leaving items at a bottle bank outside a supermarket in Ashbourne, Co Meath.
In a statement yesterday, Meath County Council said they implemented the provisions of the Litter Pollution Act 1997 and "persons who are caught littering are issued with a fine or fines as appropriate".
"If this fine is not paid it is followed by a warning letter. If the fine is still not paid, the matter is referred to the council's legal advisers in order to pursue same through the courts."
It said that if the court decided the fine should stand -- or decided to increase the fine -- then the money is pursued by the courts service.
The three men contacted RTE's 'Liveline' yesterday to speak of their experiences.
One man, named Stephen, said he had spent much of Wednesday incarcerated in Wheatfield Prison for non-payment of the fine after leaving a box outside a recycling bank at Supervalu in Ashbourne, Co Meath.
He was freed after his mother made an emotional appeal on his behalf on 'Liveline' and his father made a donation of €200 towards his fine.
Two other men were also put in prison for non-payments of fines at the same location and all were prosecuted in the space of a few months, on foot of CCTV footage taken from the scene.
Another of the men, named Chris, said he was jailed for his failure to pay a litter fine after his 12-year-old son left a crumpled plastic bag at the bottle bank after disposing of the contents.
"In my experience it was a totally nonsensical thing to do," he said of the decision to imprison him.