Call for stronger public anti-litter campaign

The ugly issue of littering was highlighted once again at the May meeting of Cavan County Council.

The motion was raised by Fianna Fáil Councillor Áine Smith who condemned the impact litter is having on the countryside.

“In recent years there is more and more evidence of waste being dumped along main roads and along by-roads and also dumping into drains and fields in some instances.”

She commended Tidy Towns volunteers for their efforts picking up rubbish across the county but lamented the need for them to do it.

“Such littering causes pollution and waste can end up in our waterways. Dumping some products into fields can be damaging for livestock. That is apart from the very unsightly scenes and impressions of areas that are created with widespread dumping.”

Cllr Smith believes public spaces are being ruined due to consistent littering.

She explains the issue had been raised to her by constituents of all ages, children included.

“As a council we should suggest a more robust publicity campaign nationally and also put in place adequate measures to counteract this growing problem.”

Her motion received strong support from the majority of councillors who were equally concerned and frustrated about the issue in their own areas.

“It’s an absolute disgrace when you see the stuff that people dump,” remarked Independent Councillor Brendan Fay.

Fianna Fáil’s Peter McVitty agreed, suggesting someone should be appointed to visit all the homes in the county that do not have a bin subscription, asking them “where do they put their rubbish?”.

Aontú Councillor Sarah O’Reilly stated “it’s absolutely heartbreaking” to see the accumulation of litter across the countryside.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to get it under control.”

She made reference to her experience in Canada where “there was not one piece of litter”, questioning what it is they are doing differently.

Fine Gael’s Carmel Brady suggested the issue may stem partly from the youth in the county. “It’s not cool to bring bottles in their pocket or back home.”

Cathaoirleach John Paul Feeley highlighted instances where big crowds accumulate at sporting events and concerts, where people “think there’s someone else to pick up for them”.

Sinn Féin Councillor Paddy McDonald told the meeting he is aware of multiple people who use public bins to dump their household waste.

When told that what they’re doing is wrong, Cllr McDonald reports their reply was: “I don’t care, I get free legal aid and have to pay a small donation into the poor box!”

He feels the threat of prosecution and penalties has little impact on some people.

In response, John McKernan, senior engineer in the Roads Department , stated the council “are doing a lot” to try to rectify the issue.

He referred to the council’s Litter Management Plan and also commended Tidy Towns groups for their assistance.