Litter bugs evade tidy town officials

Ireland’s tidiest town still has a problem with littering, but is finding it extremely difficult to catch offenders.

Killarney Town Council received 54 complaints about littering in 2011, but no on-the-spot fines were issued and not a single prosecution was brought.

Independent councillor Niall O’Callaghan asked how, with so many complaints, there appeared to be no enforcement of the Litter Pollution Act.

“Our bins and walkways are being abused. We must ask the minister (for the environment) to approve the appointment of a litter warden,” he said.

Town clerk Michael O’Leary said a litter warden’s job remained unfilled, which hampered enforcement.

All the complaints, he said, had been investigated but there was not sufficient evidence to pursue a court case.

Furthermore, he said, it was often difficult to prove the identity of an offender, even if Killarney had a litter warden.

“I fail to understand why people should be littering at all. Litter doesn’t appear out of nowhere,” Mr O’Leary remarked.

Given the huge community involvement in helping to combat littering in Killarney, he felt only a minority of people were involved in littering.

“If we had reached a stage where people just didn’t litter, we wouldn’t be talking about this problem at all,’ Mr O’Leary said.

Having been one of the most consistent performers in the Tidy Towns competition for many years, Killarney won the outright award for the first time, last year.

The top tourist town had previously won 11 successive gold medals and missed out on victory by one mark on two occasions.

Mr O’Leary said, despite littering problems, the town had more positive news to report, with a successful Killarney Looking Good competition to ensure the town and environs remained attractive and large numbers of volunteers out picking up litter year-round.

Killarney also came first in the first round of the Irish Business Against Litter league, last May.


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