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Sunday 20 August 2017

Revealed: How many times HSE rat-catchers were called out in the capital this year

Ryan Nugent and Laura Lynott

THE HSE has dealt with 4,000 infestation callouts across the capital in the past year – with an accumulation of waste the catalyst for rat problems.

Figures obtained by the Herald show that the HSE was called out for 2,332 pest control complaints on Dublin’s northside alone.

The other 1,611 complaints were for south Dublin, where the HSE has had to appoint a further three staff to its pest control service – bulking the numbers up to five.

The corresponding figure for Dublin’s northside is six.

A spokeswoman for the HSE’s environmental health office said home owners must ensure they took the necessary steps to prevent rat infestations.

“The main reason for callouts is simply sightings of rats and the associated public health concerns,” she said.

“Under the Rats and Mice Destruction Act 1919, it is the responsibility of the owners/occupiers of the land to take the necessary actions and precautions to abate and prevent infestation.

“Treatment is only a solution if other actions are taken to try to prevent recurrence.

“Waste attracts rats and provides harbourage so land owners should always clear and remove it to reduce risk of rodents.”

The Herald found more than 20 examples of waste dumped illegally around Clondalkin roads.

Local councillor Mark Ward said rat sightings and dumping went hand in hand.

“I am in no doubt that the increase in illegal dumping is contributing to this problem,” he said.

“Some of this dumping is on a commercial scale and unscrupulous operators are collecting people’s waste for a fee and dumping it in around housing estates. There are also a number of residents stockpiling domestic waste out their back gardens.

“This behaviour attracts rats into areas that they would normally not venture.”

Despite an epidemic of illegal dumping across this part of south Dublin, there have been few prosecutions in relation to waste.

Last year saw the highest number of waste enforcement inspections in five years – 5,721 – and a further 284 waste complaints, but there have been just 14 prosecutions initiated under the Waste Management Act 1996.

This act deals with larger acts of waste pollution.

In 2015 there were 36 prosecutions initiated by the local authority from 5,326 inspections conducted. Under the Litter Pollution Act – which deals with more minor offences – there were a total of 434 fines last year, with 44 court cases out of 65 successful.

Dublin City Council has obtained a total of 425 successful prosecutions, including out-of-court settlements, in the past five years, with 350 in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown in the same period. In Fingal there were 252 prosecutions last year.

Herald

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