It's almost a clean sweep for capital in litter survey
IT'S a tale of two cities. While Dublin city centre has made "spectacular advances" in cleaning up its act, Tallaght in the south of the capital is today named as one of the three dirtiest towns in Ireland.
And the Irish Business Against Litter annual survey, published today, also says that Tullamore in Co Offaly and Roscommon town are "litter blackspots".
At the top of the class is Ennis in Co Clare, today named the country's cleanest town.
Tallaght came in for much criticism from An Taisce, which conducts the annual survey, after achieving one of the lowest ratings since the league began six years ago.
It was described as "suffering from long-term neglect" with several areas "in a terrible state".
But the survey shows that almost 60pc of Irish towns are now deemed to have achieved the highest ranking -- "clean to European norms" -- compared with just 7pc when rankings began in 2002.
Dublin is well prepared to greet the hundreds of thousands of visitors expected over the coming weeks, having enjoyed a significant improvement in its litter levels.
It languished for many years as a blackspot, but now the capital is ranked in 16th place of the 55 areas surveyed nationwide.
In all, a record 32 towns have achieved litter-free status, with Ennis climbing strongly to claim the title of Ireland's cleanest town for the first time.
The average litter rating across the board rose to a record 79 points, up 3pc, on the previous survey.
And in what is a positive boost in selling Ireland to tourists, 62pc of heritage and amenity sites surveyed were found to be litter-free.
The number of blackspots fell to just three: Tallaght, Roscommon and Tullamore.
"In the midst of the prevailing doom and gloom, it is refreshing to have a positive economic news story. This is one," IBAL Chairman Tom Cavanagh said yesterday.
"Tourists to the capital are less likely to be met by cleanliness standards below what they experience at home. A positive first impression is critical to our tourism product.
"Here is hard evidence of real strides to safeguard a valuable breadwinner. It is now up to the citizens to the play their part and keep their streets clean."
The survey is conducted by An Taisce on behalf of IBAL, which is an alliance of businesses. It monitors towns with a population of 6,000 and over, in accordance with international grading standards.
Since the IBAL league commenced in 2002, Dublin City had failed to keep pace with the nationwide improvement in litter levels
An Taisce says the recent improvement in the capital are because of rigorous enforcement of the litter act, improved cleaning and provision of more litter bins.
The city council has, in recent years, deployed extra cleaning staff and used CCTV to successfully prosecute illegal dumpers. It has also undertaken an extensive advertising campaign to deter littering,
"Dublin is a vibrant city and functions on a 24/7 basis," the city's head of waste management, Pat Cronin, said.
"As a result, Dublin City Council has implemented numerous initiatives to ensure that we all play our role in keeping our city clean. Dublin City Council is delighted that the results of these initiatives are reflected in the IBAL report."
But Mr Cavanagh said that although tourist towns like Killarney and Ennis had excellent performances, Limerick, Kilkenny and especially Cork had slipped backwards, as had Galway.
"While two-thirds of sites in Dublin were 'clean to European norms', this was only the case in one-third of sites surveyed in Cork City," he said.
Almost half of all approach roads to towns were littered, and it was up to county councils to ensure that it was removed.
Supermarket car parks, especially those at Lidl, Dunnes Stores and Tesco, were also found to be "magnets" for litter.