Fermoy sweeps up award but litter remains blight on towns and cities
Fermoy in Co Cork is the most litter-free town in the country, while Waterford takes the top gong for cleanliness among our cities.
However, Irish Business Against Litter (Ibal) has warned that while just under 90pc of surveyed towns were deemed to be clean last year, an improvement on 2017, almost half of city areas are littered.
They include Ballybane in Galway and Dublin's north inner city, both considered to be "seriously littered".
Ballymun, also in Dublin, Cork's Northside and Mahon were also littered, while Dublin city centre was "moderately littered".
Disadvantaged urban areas occupied the bottom five places in the rankings, Conor Horgan from Ibal said, and they are not improving.
"Three years ago we deliberately shone a spotlight on specific city areas in the hope the attention would spur councils and communities into action," he said.
"It is fair to say we have seen no noticeable improvement in any of these areas, nor have we seen much by way of substantial measures to turn them around.
"Litter is a symptom of a greater malaise and keeping these areas as clean and well presented as the rest of a city would over time have significant benefits. We need local authorities to take the lead."
Environment Minister Richard Bruton will today crown Fermoy as the cleanest town among those ranked according to 2018 litter levels.
"Combating litter is part of a much wider challenge, how we use our resources effectively and adapt to recognise environmental damage more generally," he said.
"Litter is a very tangible, visible example of the kind of damage that is being done. It is vital communities, businesses and local authorities in towns all across Ireland, work together to manage waste properly and reduce litter."
An Taisce, which carries out the surveys on behalf of Ibal, praised Fermoy as having "exceeded its usual high standards of cleanliness", adding: "Great care has been taken not just with regard to litter but also overall presentation."
Fermoy's success, last achieved in 2007, will be marked by a specially commissioned €40,000 sculpture.
Among the areas to come in for criticism is Dublin's north inner city, which suffered from litter blackspots on Oriel Street, Dunne Street, Sherrard Street Lower and Railway Street.
Fana Glas in Galway was a litter blackspot, while Ballymun's result was brought down by dumping and burnt items at the former Towers and recycling facility at the shopping centre.
The Maples in Mahon in Cork was slammed as "not just littered but subject to dumping with soiled nappies strewn about". "There were very heavy levels of all manner of litter throughout," said the survey.
The report on Cork's Northside highlighted the North Ring Road as being "almost landfill-like" in places and said: "Long-term littered sites that have been repeatedly highlighted in previous surveys are not being dealt with."
Ibal was established in 1996 and is an alliance of companies that believe prosperity in the areas of tourism, food and foreign direct investment is contingent on a clean, litter-free environment.