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Summer of outdoor socialising: Extra litter staff and public toilets to tackle pandemic gatherings

  • Summer of outdoor socialising as lockdown lifts 
  • Photographs on social media from last weekend showed the sheer volume of littering taking place in the mild weather


Overflowing rubbish bins in Howth Village last Sunday evening. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Overflowing rubbish bins in Howth Village last Sunday evening. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Councils have had to deal with littering at beauty spots

Councils have had to deal with littering at beauty spots


Overflowing rubbish bins in Howth Village last Sunday evening. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Councils across the country say they’re gearing up to tackle litterbugs, with plans for more bins and additional staff to deal with the issue.

However, some councils seem to be taking much more action than others.

Photographs on social media from last weekend, showed the sheer volume of littering taking place in the mild weather, as crowds descended on beauty spots to eat and drink al fresco.

Dublin city seemed to be the worst-affected area, with images posted online showing hundreds of bottles and cans strewn around, particularly in Portobello.

A Dublin City Council spokesman added that the barrels - temporary bins -usually used at outdoor events will now be "redeployed to (rubbish) hotspots."

"Some of the main hot spots are, Hanover Quay, Portobello, Clontarf and Smithfield," the spokesman added.

“Additional barrels for waste are being introduced at high-amenity locations across the city,” a Dublin City Council spokesman said.

“The servicing of these areas to deal with the additional demand is being prioritised.”

Galway City Council was prepared for summer pandemic gatherings, announcing it was actually hiring four extra staff to manage the situation.

A Galway council spokesperson, in liaison with the environment department, said: “The locations and quantities of litter bins throughout the city are under constant review by the local authority and adjustments required are made on an as-needed basis.”

Dún Laoghaire was another area affected by crowds gathering at coastal spots over the weekend. But it seems Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council was taking an early and active approach to the issue. The local authority is developing a litter campaign that will launch in the coming weeks.

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The local authority said there was “a plan to deploy extra bins in key locations this weekend and for the coming months to cater for the increased footfall along our coast and in our parks”.

Fingal is another local authority clearly prioritising the issue. A Fingal County Council spokesman said it was putting “extra resources” into managing the issue.

“In addition to our existing fixed bins, extra temporary wheelie bins have also been put in places of high footfall,” it added.

“Larger capacity bins are being installed at various locations, with additional compactor bins on order.

“Operations staff are working additional hours, seven days a week, dealing with emptying bins and cleaning up litter, with particular focus on the late evening collection of rubbish particularly in the Malahide/Howth area.

“Additional staff have been brought in to carry out litter picking where the public don’t get the litter into a public bin or bins outside businesses serving takeaway food and drinks.”

Meanwhile South Dublin County Council has revealed it has seen a “substantial increase in cost to the council” due to pandemic socialising outdoors.

A South Dublin County Council spokesman said: “The cost of the weekend element of the cleaning and litter bin services which are currently in place in town and village centres and in parks is approximately €260,000 per year.”

Lockdowns and 5km movement restrictions had led to an increase in the usage of litter bins across and “unfortunately an increase in litter in parks in general.”

“It is clear that litter is at times being left beside and on top of litter bins by people using the parks for legitimate purposes.

“It is most likely the case that users see this as responsible disposal of waste items such as coffee cups etc.

“However, these items usually end up on the ground, scattered around the park and contributing to the litter problem.

“The council would like to appeal to all park users as follows – If a litter bin is full, please do not leave litter or bagged dog waste beside the bin or on top of it. Instead please either take your waste home or put it in another litter bin.”

Fingal also announced an anti-littering campaign to run across social media, reminding the public to dispose of rubbish in a bin or bring it home with them.

“Our environment department is also engaging with businesses serving takeaway food and drinks, which is contributing enormously to the increase in rubbish,” the council added.

Cork City Council said it had seen a “huge increase in footfall across all our parks and amenity walks and a corresponding increase in disposed litter.”

“We have spent over €25,000 on the provision of extra bins and have increased litter picking/bin emptying at the most popular parks to twice a day at weekends.”

Waterford City Council said it had had “some issues with overflowing bins” over the weekend.

As a result, the council announced it was kick-starting its summer “cleansing schedules” early. This will get under way this weekend.

Limerick City and County Council said it was “disappointed that some people continue to believe that they can discard their rubbish anywhere they want.”

The local authority said: “Four solar compacting bins have been relocated to the city centre to allow for additional volumes of waste to be collected.”

Limerick council said crews had collected more than 40 bags of rubbish, a fifth of which was of “rubbish just thrown on the ground” at the People’s Park and Shelbourne Park.

“In our suburban parks in Mungret and Castletroy, 107 bags of rubbish were collected, 38 of these bags were of litter on the ground. Parks staff collect rubbish four times daily.

“In the city centre an extra collection is taking place with two collections each on Saturday and Sunday.

“An additional 15, 1,100-litre bins have been placed at a number of strategic locations in the city centre and along the ‘Three Bridges’ trail to allow people dispose of their rubbish responsibly.”

Meanwhile, Phoenix Park has added seven temporary toilets to their complex for the summer months, the Office of Public Works (OPW) has confirmed.

The seven port-a-loos have been installed at the Papal Cross car park on the facility.

The OPW confirmed in recent weeks that two locations were being considered for the installation of portable toilets so it is possible that more will be added to the park in the coming months.

The park’s visitor numbers have soared in the last 12 months due to people seeking more relaxation outdoors during lockdowns.

These toilets are sure to bring a sense of relief to the tens of thousands of visitors.

This comes after 22 locations across Dublin City also announced their toilets will be open to the public in the coming weeks.

The plans announced by Dublin City Council will see facilities such as sport and leisure centres, as well as libraries, opening their toilets to the public from early May onwards.

The sports facilities include Ballyfermot leisure centre; Markievicz leisure centre on Townsend Street; St. Catherine’s sports centre; Irishtown Stadium; Clontarf Road sports pitches; Finglas leisure centre on Mellowes Road; Cabra parkside sports centre; Ballymun leisure centre.

The libraries making their toilets open to the public are: Ballymun; Cabra; Coolock; Walkinstown; Dolphins Barn; Ballyfermot; Pearse Street; Raheny; Rathmines; Drumcondra; Kevin Street; Pembroke; Terenure.

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