Ballymun and north inner city among country's biggest litter blackspots
Tourist hotspots have scrubbed up well for the summer, with many popular destinations cleaner than ever, the latest litter survey shows.
Kilkenny gained first place in the country as the least-littered area and was marked as being cleaner than the European standard.
Dublin, Galway, Cork city and Killarney also had record levels of cleanliness.
"Today's tourists demand high levels of cleanliness and these results indicate that's what they will be getting this year when they come to Ireland," said Conor Horgan, of Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL).
"It's also important their first impression be a good one, so it's pleasing to see the roads around Dublin Airport are again clean to European norms."
An Taisce complimented Kilkenny on "returning to a place it has been many times - the top of the IBAL table. The entire area was pristine."
But Ballymun in Dublin has been named the litter blackspot of Ireland, sparking questions on why less-affluent neighbourhoods are lagging behind.
The north Dublin suburb came last on a list of 40 towns and cities assessed as part of the IBAL survey and the inner-city of Dublin came a close second.
Ballymun recorded one of the worst results since the litter league was founded 17 years ago.
IBAL felt this was partly due to the "widespread use of bags over bins in domestic-waste collection".
The litter examiner said it was "especially disappointing that sites which had been top ranking in previous surveys" were found to be littered.
Meanwhile Portlaoise, Tralee and Letterkenny enjoyed their best-ever showings in the survey and were among 14 towns deemed to be cleaner than the European benchmark.
"An indication of the progress we've made over the past five years has been the absence of litter blackspots in our survey," said Mr Horgan.
"However, as Ballymun and other results show, there has been little, if any, progress in disadvantaged areas of our cities."
He added: "The gap between these areas and the commercial high-footfall city centres is widening."
Litter levels were assessed in 40 towns and cities across the country by An Taisce, which found 31 of them, some 77pc, to be clean.
Kilkenny led the rankings for the fifth time, ahead of Athlone and Killarney.
The centres of Dublin, Cork, Galway and Waterford were found to be cleaner than previously.
Only Limerick failed to achieve clean status and the city came 35th - towards the bottom end of the table.
Galvone, in Limerick City south, was deemed to be "littered" but had improved significantly on its previous result.
Mahon in Cork, and Cork's northside, remained littered.
According to IBAL, changing domestic-waste collection from plastic bags to conventional bins could significantly improve cleanliness in this area.
IBAL is calling on Dublin City Council to review the streets exempted from an EU law requiring waste collection by bins and to work with private waste companies to introduce special bins where space is an issue.
"The derogation from the EU law in the north inner city is too broad, with damaging consequences," it said.
Dumping continues to feature prominently in IBAL surveys and accounts for many of the individual blackspots found in cities.
"We have a perception of dumping as something that takes place outside our cities and towns, far from public view," said Mr Horgan. "The survey shows this is not the case."