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Monday 20 November 2017

Councils struggle to deal with rising tide of litter on beaches

Bags of litter collected after a clean-up of beaches in the Fingal County Council area last weekend
Bags of litter collected after a clean-up of beaches in the Fingal County Council area last weekend

Sam Griffin

SEVERAL local authorities around the country have had to deploy additional cleaning personnel and install extra bins as thousands of sun-seekers flocked to the beaches at the weekend.

Fingal County Council deployed an additional 24 personnel over the weekend to deal with the massive excess of litter left behind on the 13 beaches and harbours in the area.

A spokesperson told the Irish Independent thousands of bags of rubbish were collected by waste management personnel which filled "10 large roll-on skip loads of rubbish".

"Over the weekend of July 13 and 14, approximately 3,000 bags of rubbish were collected by our crews," spokesperson Ann Murphy revealed.

"We deployed an additional 24 personnel over the weekend, over and above our normal cleaning crews in the towns to deal with this extraordinary volume of litter."

She thanked the majority of beach users who she said behaved responsibly and removed their litter and urged revellers to show courtesy to other beach users by not leaving the areas dirty.

The issue of people littering on beaches and public spaces was discussed on RTE's 'Liveline' programme where several concerned callers described beaches being left in deplorable conditions by some sunshine revellers.

One beach mentioned was Lahinch in Co Clare, while another beach at Kilkee, also in Co Clare, was also mentioned.

Area engineer in Kilkee, Cyril Feeney, said the number of public bins on the beach had been doubled since the warm weather began and additional council workers had been redeployed to help in the large clean-up operation of the beaches.

"Due to the unprecedented number of people we've had on the beach, we've had to increase these waste management services and have a full-time cleaning crew emptying bins up to every four or five hours," Mr Feeney said.


He said the vast majority of people had been co-operative and used the bins or took their rubbish home with them, but he said much of the problems stemmed from people eating food or drinking late in the evening and littering in the dark.

Littering in public spaces and beaches has been a problem in Cork this summer also. Last week the beach at Myrtleville was said to be so badly littered, one family was afraid to let their children walk around due to broken glass and soiled clothing.

"There were bottles everywhere. There were food wrappers, bits of plastic, cans, soiled clothing and a torn old blanket not to mention a disposable barbecue which some idiot had decided to half-bury in the sand," beach-goer PJ Coogan said.

"If any child had stood on it it would have torn their toes off. They could also have been burned because those things stay hot for hours," he said.

Despite the need for additional personnel on beaches nationwide, former Cork mayor Cllr Tim Lombard (FG) warned that councils do not have the resources to enforce crackdowns on all beaches on a daily basis.

"People need to respect the natural beauty of our coastline and leave the strand exactly as they find it," he said.

Other beaches that endured littering included Enniscrone in Co Sligo, Tramore in Co Waterford and Inchydoney in west Cork.

One caller said there was a very strong garda presence on Portmarnock beach in Dublin where dozens of young people were involved in a mass brawl earlier this summer.

Irish Independent

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