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Additional staff are to be hired temporarily over the summer period to deal with litter management in Clare.

Published in May, the National Litter Polluting Monitoring System report for 2020 indicated a slight decrease in littering from 2019 to 2020, “we will be aiming to continue this downward trend in Clare,” senior engineer with Clare County Council, Cyril Feeney outlined.

He confirmed that the local authority are availing of additional funding as part of the €5m national package announced by Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan (GP). This will be used for additional bins, awareness campaigns and supporting community groups to maintain their towns and villages.

€95,000 has also been allocated to the Council under the Outdoor Summer Assistance Fund, this can be used in the provision and maintenance of public amenities such as parks, beaches and pedestrianised streets, Feeney explained. “We are also employing an additional twelve temporary staff across the county to deal with litter management for the summer period”.

His comments came in response to a proposal from Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) at the June meeting of the Council. She flagged that littering had reached “unprecedented proportions”. She believed that there was a strong argument to recruit more litter wardens and welcomed the commitment from the local authority to hire more persons in this capacity.

Speaking at the adjourned meeting, the Shannon representative stated that the Leave no Trace policy was not working. “I do feel people need to take personal responsibility. We do need to look at more bins”. She highlighted that broken glass is limiting the amount of work Tidy Towns groups can do. “I would like to see more education on this and a day when we see no bins”.

She warned, “We’re soon going to see more plastic than fish in the sea”. McGettigan claimed that the cost in Ireland per year associated with cleaning up littering and dumping was €90m.

South Clare is “particularly badly hit” when it comes to littering, Cllr Pat O’Gorman (FF) maintained. The addition of CCTV cameras and drone footage to catch persons illegally dumping, he added while Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) insisted naming and shaming was the way to go. Illegal dumping was described by Cllr Tony O’Brien (FF) as “a national pandemic”. “t is every county in the country, it is a huge problem and it is not going away”.

Ennis’ Cllr Pat Daly (FF) reiterated his plea to reward persons who reported individuals that are dumping illegally. “People are not using bottle banks and recycling centres, they should be named and shamed, people are afraid to report people. Until there is some sort of reward for people that report these thugs, this issue won’t go away”.

Adequate resources must be at the Council’s disposal to allow the public access “proper collection services,” Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) said.

Tidying up fly-tipping costs Clare County Council in the region of €300,000 per annum, Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) noted. “There is a fundamental difference between litter and rubbish, litter is the sweet wrapper or can of coke that doesn’t get put in the bin, fly-tipping rubbish is another level. The flaw is that we privatised the entire process rather than just the collection process.”.

Infrequency with emptying bottle banks was leading to community groups taking home additional waste, Cllr Susan Crawford (GP) revealed.

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