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Sunday 18 March 2018

We're cleaning up our act . . . but cities are getting dirtier

Paul Melia

OUR cities are getting dirtier but Ireland as a whole is becoming cleaner, a major survey has found.

Forty out of 60 towns are now classed as "litter free" -- but the majority of our cities are "littered", with Limerick among one of two "litter blackspots".

Ireland's cleanest town will be announced at a ceremony in the Merrion Hotel in Dublin this morning, but Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) says local authorities are not doing enough to enforce the law.

A key finding of the survey is that none of the country's major cities have received a "litter-free" classification, with most slipping down the rankings.

The findings show:

  • Dublin is 51st out of 60 towns and cities surveyed, with just half of all sites "clean to European norms". South William Street, Parnell Square and Moore Street were singled out for being in very bad condition.
  • Cork is 50th out of 60, with approach roads described as "unacceptable". The N71 Bandon approach road has a "serious litter problem" with casual littering, discarded car parts and a "strong smell of urine" reported, while there has been "complete disregard" of the North Ring road with illegal dumping prevalent.
  • Galway is 45th, with less than half of all the sites surveyed being "clean to European norms". The worst site surveyed was the Promenade -- which was covered in dog excrement -- followed by the Spanish Arch and Mainguard Street which have a "serious litter problem".
  • Limerick came last of the 60 towns and cities. The main streets were clean but litter was "prevalent everywhere".

"The reasons behind the lack of progress in cities are not hard to detect," IBAL chairman Dr Tom Cavanagh said.

"Despite what the Litter Act says, local authorities are not compelling businesses to keep the visible areas inside their property, such as car parks, forecourts, shrubberies and basements, as well as pavements, clear of litter. They will fine individuals, but are not prepared to enforce the law on businesses.

"Almost 50 public houses on main streets were found to be in breach of the litter law. Until we have a rethink of how litter enforcement is managed locally, the nationwide clean-up will never be complete," he said.

"Maybe the task should be taken away from local authorities altogether, as it is in some other countries."


The survey, carried out by An Taisce on behalf of IBAL, singled out Limerick for special mention. Of 20 sites surveyed, just three were clean. William Street was described as having "heavy levels of a wide variety of litter dominating the street" and the approach to Parkville Court and surrounds was recorded as "a terrible site and neglected area -- it was a complete eyesore".

Wicklow town was named as a litter blackspot with the report revealing that the Coates Lane area had a serious litter problem. By far the most heavily littered site surveyed in Wicklow was Crinion Park -- described as being "in a terrible state and clearly abused and neglected by those responsible for its maintenance".

Thirty-nine out of the 60 areas surveyed were placed in the "litter-free" category this year, compared to only two when the survey began in 2002.

IBAL also wants a chewing gum tax to be introduced to pay for removing the litter which remains on streets indefinitely.

The overall winner of the 2009 award will be chosen from Bray, Cavan, Clonmel, Drogheda and Longford today.

Irish Independent

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