Let's clean up our act
Madam -- Ireland has a chronic litter problem. Travel any road in the country and you are sure to be accompanied on your way by a giant litter bin made up of various shapes, materials and colours, a veritable rainbow of rubbish from one town to the next.
If I were a Chinese head of a multinational corporation travelling from Cork to Limerick recently, having never set foot in the country before, I would surely have turned back before I reached Mallow. Lack of joined-up thinking in council offices sees grass verges being cut, leaving miles and miles of litter which is left there until some time, many weeks later, a litter crew might arrive to pick up.
Most of us are aware that education on the environment is where it all begins, and we can only hope that future generations will be kinder to the Earth than our one has. In the meantime, however, we must clean up our act.
Our tourist economy has never been so important, so why are we sabotaging this vital contributor to the well-being of our economy right now when it is so crucial to us?
What can be done? To date some very good work has been undertaken by the many 'Tidy Towns' volunteers who take a civic pride in their surroundings; and the 'Adopt a Road' programme, whereby a certain business takes responsibility for maintaining a stretch of road or a roundabout.
We may send as many ministers abroad as we wish, but it all becomes meaningless unless we can deliver. Surely there are many 'community alert' personnel around, and judging by the many signs flagged countrywide, there are. Would people who are receiving money from the State while waiting for work be asked to contribute their time to this project? Would the State waive the new household charge or part of it in lieu of time spent cleaning the country?
If the safety factors involved in a major group clean-up could be overcome it could be easily achieved, but we need the blessing and the help of our local councils.
While we may be in the doldrums as a nation, this does not mean that we have to surround ourselves in squalor. We need to act. We owe it to the many who will visit our dear country this year -- but most of all, we owe it to ourselves.