THE Fermoy based chairman of Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) has warned that the Gathering 2012 could be compromised if towns and cities across the country do no clean up their act.
Speaking at an international conference of environmental experts in Brussels, Dr Tom Cavanagh said the whole Gathering faces being compromised by cutbacks to local authority street cleaning programmes
Dr Cavanagh said IBAL believed there was little point pumping millions of euro into the Gathering project if visitors will be faced with litter strewn streets on their arrival to the country.
His key concern was that, given the current financial climate, local authorities might be tempted to cut back on cleaning schedules for 2013.
"There is a lot of expectation in Ireland surrounding the Gathering, but we need to start talking about basic housekeeping to ensure these guest arrive to a clean and well presented country," said Dr Cavanagh.
"Ploughing millions into attracting visitors, while at the same time cutting back on schemes aimed at keeping the country free of litter, would be a very misplaced policy," he added.
Dr Cavanagh said that it would make far more sense for local authorities to find more cost effective ways of achieving and maintaining high cleanliness levels.
"One way of doing this would be to enforce fines on property owners who fail to heed the Litter," he said.
Dr Cavanagh had been invited by the EU Anti-Littering Network to speak at the Tackling Litter Prevention In Europe seminar in order to highlight IBALs successful anti-litter league programme.
Since its inception the initiative has seen litter levels in Ireland drop dramatically, with threequarters of our towns now deemed 'Clean to European Norms'.
Conference organiser Marco Vigetti said the IBAL model one that he believed other countries could replicate.
"I see no reason why a similar ranking system could not reap the same rewards in other European countries," he told delegates.