*Photograph: John Mangan

ONE FINE has been issued in Lahinch beach over the last three years for dog fouling with local politicians insisting members of the public need to be fined in North-West Clare to change behaviour over the “disgusting” amount of dog poo left along beaches and public areas.

“Serious dog fouling” is occurring in Lahinch, Cllr Liam Grant (GP) flagged while calling on Clare County Council to “target several days to enforce dog fouling fines”. He added, “I would like to see something similar to that done by An Garda Síochána who conduct a number of Slow Down Days each year. That Clare County Council are seen to be enforcing dog fouling laws and taking the matter seriously. I would also ask for the data on how many dog fouling fines have been issued in Lahinch over the last three years”.

Senior executive engineer in the environment section of the Council, Brendan Flynn said a community warden is covering the North section of the West Clare Municipal District which is covering Lahinch. “Our Warden will undertake regular patrols in the area to combat dog fouling. The Council have also requested our Dog Warden service provider to carry out additional patrols in Clare beaches. We have also ran a number of specific awareness campaigns around Responsible Dog Ownership”. He said a number of targeted dog fouling days will take place in 2024 and confirmed only one fine has been issued in Lahinch over the last three years.

An education and enforcement campaign against dog fouling on streets of towns and public areas of the West Clare MD was requested by Cllr Shane Talty (FF).

There has been “extensive education programme” embarked on by the environment section in recent years and months, Flynn advised. This includes providing communities with Green Dog walker packs, regular use of print media to raise awareness on dog fouling, providing free dog bags to local businesses, availability of dog poo bags for free in all MD offices, promotion of Good dog owner responsibilities via Greener Clare social media accounts, promotion through the Green Schools programme, the provision of six mobile tannoy systems in 2023 to give a voice recorded message to deter dog fouling and to remind dog owners of their responsibilities. Popular walkways have been stencilled with ‘bag it bin it’.

While involved in the beach clean over St Bridget’s Bank Holiday, Cllr Grant said he counted twenty bags of dog poo. “A new trend is people are picking up their dog poo but hanging it to possibly collect later and forgetting it”. He added, “There is a huge amount of people not picking up the dog fouling, I feel there is a huge lack of enforcement” which he felt is letting people think they can get away with it. “Coming down on a busy fine days and fining people would change people’s behaviour”. He said the cameras from the lifeguard hut in Lahinch could help to catch the offenders.

“We can’t tolerate what is disgraceful behaviour,” remarked Cllr Talty. “We can do as much education but it is going to require enforcement, what has been encountered in Lahinch is nothing short of disgusting”. He said he was on a rural road in North Clare last week and came across a car pulled over at 4pm dumping waste in the ditch, “thankfully I got the car and he will receive a fine in the post,” the postmaster commented.

Consequences are felt by persons with mobility issues on wheelchairs and parents with buggies, said Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) who labelled the matter as “disgusting”. He stated, “People don’t respond well to a carrot without a stick, maybe we need to bring a couple of people out there like our community and dog warden, do a targeted hour or two, if there’s a problem if someone is giving you crap about it, is there a consequence that you take the dog away”. Such a stance will help to spread word very quickly “that this behaviour won’t be tolerated but that word isn’t out there because people don’t think they will be caught,” he added.

How children tend to pick up everything when they’re lower to the ground was referenced by Cllr Rita McInerney (FF). Bringing groups together will strengthen any information campaign, she maintained. “The carrot and stick is where it’s at in terms of dog fouling,” she said.

No town or village isn’t affected, Cathaoirleach of the West Clare MD, Cllr Ian Lynch (IND) insisted. He said conditions along Cappa are “a disgrace”. He commented, “We’d love to have more signs up but the dogs don’t read them”. There is no control when it comes to stray dogs, he flagged. Lynch lamented the “push back” he has received from the Council’s environment section over the past seven years on efforts to spend his General Municipal Allocation on dog bins.

Senior executive officer, John O’Malley acknowledged, “There is a need for a dog warden to go around with community warden, there is a need for word to get out that this might happen”. This could be labelled as “a doggie SWAT team,” Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) said. Vans hired from GPT that don’t display the Council logo could be used, Cllr Lynch suggested and he later shared with the meeting a cartoon image in his head of dogs lined up beside each other having their mug shots taken.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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