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Dublin: 13 °C Monday 20 May, 2019
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Tullamore tops rankings of Ireland's cleanest towns

Irish Business Against Litter said that overall, this year had the best result yet for Ireland in its litter survey.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

TULLAMORE HAS TOPPED the ranking of Ireland’s cleanest towns, according to the latest survey by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL).

IBAL said that overall, its survey shows improvements in cleanliness across the country over the past year.

Over 90% of rural towns surveyed were deemed clean, while Dublin, Cork and Galway city centres all scored well in IBAL’s ranking of 40 areas.

An Taisce assesses litter levels in 40 towns and cities on behalf of IBAL. This year, it found that 80% of areas were clean, with a top tier of 16 towns deemed “cleaner than European Norms”.

Tullamore topped the rankings, followed by Dublin Airport environs and Leixlip. This year there was again a wide gap between towns and disadvantaged city areas, with the latter occupying the bottom six places in the ranking.

The inspectors praised Tullamore for having “so many top-ranking sites”, such as Lloyd Town Park, “spotless” O’Connor Tullamore Stadium and Patrick Street, which was “looking very well with so much colourful planting in the form of hanging baskets, ornamental trees and large planter boxes.” All the approach roads were also top ranking.

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“In the 16 years we have been conducting these surveys, this is possibly our best result,” said Conor Horgan of IBAL.

Across the board we have seen improvements. The news is all the more positive given the importance of how we present our country over the summer months, when we attract over 40% of our visitors. Also satisfying is the pristine state of the roads around Dublin Airport, which help form a first impression for many of these visitors.

The Dublin Airport environs were deemed a litter blackspot when first surveyed five years ago.

While no area was named as a litter blackspot this year, Galvone in Limerick City was found to be again seriously littered, while Dublin north inner city and Cork city north were also littered.

“We haven’t seen as much improvement in these social housing areas, where communities are often transient, social neglect is evident, and community groups and tidy towns committees are lacking compared to in mixed communities,” said Horgan. “Without these volunteer forces supporting the efforts of the council, these areas will simply not be clean on a sustained basis.”

While there were improvements in Dublin’s north inner city, the inspectors highlighted a “dumping ground” near Sheriff St Park, rubbish along the canal pathway at Guild St and several sites suffering from “long-term abuse and neglect”, rather than just casual litter.

In Galvone in Limerick, it found the rear of the industrial estate was a litter blackspot, and there were large accumulations of litter at the Irish Rail site near Kennedy Park, as well as at the recycle facility at Roxboro Shopping Centre, which was described as being in “a terrible state”.

The surveyors said they were disappointed that “littered sites which were previously highlighted have not been cleaned up”.

Dumping is the new litter

The survey also found instances of ‘extreme littering’.

“Be it in cities or in towns, we enjoy a much cleaner environment than 15 years ago, but litter has not gone away,” said Horgan. “This summer we again had examples of extreme littering on beaches for example, which displays a worrying indifference to the natural environment. Marine litter is a source of great concern at present and an issue IBAL may concentrate more on in the future.”

He said that dumping appears to be on the increase, and said IBAL is concerned that “the more we ask people to pay for waste disposal the greater an issue it is likely to become”.

“It may not be as widespread, but dumping is the new litter in many respects,” said Horgan.

IBAL agrees with the “polluter pays” principle behind the mandatory pay-by-weight collection system. It says that some of the monies raised should be ringfenced for councils to tackle the increased dumping that it believes “will result from people looking to evade the charges”.

When it came to tourists sites, 85% of 32 sites surveyed were clean, among them the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre, Muckross House in Killarney, Guinness Storehouse and Newgrange. The remainder showed small amounts of litter.

IBAL also said that while heritage amenities, shopping centres and main streets were found to be particularly clean, train and bus stations and recycle facilities were the locations most likely to be littered. The exterior of both Cavan and Waterford bus stations were described as “heavily littered”.

Read: Rivers of Buckfast bottles and human excrement in playgrounds: How can Ireland clean up its act?>

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