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Investigation after animal carcass left to rot on popular canal walkway in Dublin

The carcass had been placed in a barrel and dumped on the towpath on the opposite side of the canal to the Grange Castle Business Park.

Image: Anthony King

AN ANIMAL CARCASS was left putrid by the Grand Canal for days, despite South Dublin City Council being made aware of it over the May bank holiday weekend.

The animal, thought to be a dog, was passed by families walking along a popular stretch of the canal in Lucan. The carcass had been placed in a barrel and dumped on the towpath on the opposite side of the canal to the Grange Castle Business Park.

The area has seen significant investment in recent years, with the Grand Canal Greenway now a popular walkway and cycleway. A new pedestrian bridge close to the business park links both sides of the canal.

South Dublin County Council were made aware of the rotting animal carcass as early as Sunday 3 May by telephone. However, the council replied by email on Tuesday that the Grand Canal was maintained by Waterways Ireland.

Waterways Ireland, in reply to emailed queries, stated that they would investigate the incident. The dead animal was almost skeletonised when viewed on Wednesday.

Lucan resident Kieron Lewis encountered the remains while cycling with his daughters last Sunday. “The remains were on the far side of the canal, but I could smell it from there,” he said. 

“It was my 12-year-old daughter who spotted it first. She said ‘the smell is really bad here’,” Lewis told TheJournal.ie. “We have three dogs at home so [my daughters] were quite upset.”

After being contacted for comment, South Dublin County Council said that they would “arrange for the removal of the remains of the animal at this location”. A local resident reported that the remains were still there on Thursday afternoon.

Dublin City Council has reportedly seen a 25% increase in illegal dumping, as well as illegal burning, since the Covid-19 crisis began.

The Grand Canal is frequently being littered by plastic bottles, crisp wrappers and beer cans, with the canal surroundings being routinely cleaned to a good standard [in Lucan] and then littered again.

On-the-spot fines for littering under the Litter Pollution Act 1997 are €150. If the matter is brought before the District Count and the offender found guilty, the maximum fine can be up to €3,000.

Last May, the charity Voice published a 10-month investigation into how local authorities are managing Ireland’s public waste and litter. It found that on average only 8,300 fines for littering are issued each year in Ireland, and only 43% are paid.

The report recommended littering be made a criminal offense as it is in the UK and France, and spot penalties be increased. “People aren’t scared about littering because there is no enforcement,” said Mindy O’Brien at Voice. “The local authorities are under-resourced.”

Even when local authorities take offenders to court, judges may order them to pay penalties into charity boxes “It takes time and money and they don’t recoup those in pursuing those cases,” said O’Brien.

In February, a Conservative think tank recommended that the UK government raise the first time fine for littering to £500 (€571). It suggested following countries such as Singapore, which slaps $2,000 (€1,300) fines on first-time offenders

About the author:

Anthony King  / Freelance science journalist in Dublin

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