No laughing matter as 100 empty 'hippy crack' canisters left at beach
Almost 100 empty canisters of dangerous nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, have been dumped on Meath beaches since they were closed in March due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The discarded cans of 'hippy crack' were collected by volunteers who amassed 200 bags of rubbish, a tonne of glass, tyres, construction barriers and even cash registers in the first clean-up of the Meath coastline since lockdown began.
Almost 240 volunteers showed community spirit by turning out to rid the beaches of tonnes of litter strewn along the sands and in the dunes before the Meath beaches reopen at the end of the month.
According to Alan Watson, of the beach management committee, the amount of rubbish and broken glass that had accumulated in the last few months was "incredible".
"Our clean-ups stopped on March 7. We had no option but to try and do something as the beach and dunes had become so badly littered with glass, cans and bags of dog faeces," Mr Watson said.
"The community cares about the beach and we are ashamed of the state it was allowed to get into recently.
"The beach is home to international volleyball competitions, national sandcastle and sculpting competitions and sand yachting events - none of which will be happening this year.
"The regular community beach cleans organised by the beach management committee volunteers have now resumed with an awareness of social distancing and the requirement of a safe and clean foreshore."
Fine Gael councillor Paddy Meade expressed concern over the amount of empty cans of nitrous oxide on the beaches.
"I have to say, fair play to all those who were out cleaning the beaches over the weekend," he said.
"It always disappoints me when I hear of so much litter dumped illegally, but the discovery of up to 100 empty canisters of nitrous oxide is very scary.
"This new craze by youngsters has already left a 15-year-old child in Dublin dead and if action is not taken, it won't be long before we count more deaths from this substance.
"I ask all parents to talk to your children about this substance and I think more serious measures are needed at Government level to tackle the growing problem."
Meanwhile, Mr Meade climbed into a wheelchair on Sunday to show how hard it would be for people with disabilities to access the beach if a motion to close it to cars was passed today.