The beautiful weather seen over recent days has highlighted the natural beauty of our county, but it has also revealed a more ugly facet of modern Ireland, littering. The problem isn’t just impacting Co Leitrim but the thoughtless actions of a minority of people is leaving ‘Lovely Leitrim’ with a new title ‘Littered Leitrim’.
By Leonie McKiernan
Sadly you don’t have to drive very far to find out just how ‘dirty’ people have become with piles of rubbish littering our road-sides, increasing incidences of illegal dumping, especially in our bogs and people driving into our rural areas with the express intention of dumping their household rubbish.
There is growing anger at this sort of behaviour as, inevitably, it is left to the decent people of this county and throughout Ireland to have to foot the bill for the clean-up which inevitably has to follow this illegal dumping.
The problem has become so bad in recent months that the issue was raised by Cllr Sean McGowan at the recent Council meeting.
Cllr McGowan said that he was disgusted by the behaviour of a minority of people and he asked the Council to act with urgency on the growing problem of road-side litter.
“The problem appears to be getting worse and it is likely that the community at large will need to be involved in any successful solution. The littered state of many of the road verges should be a cause of embarrassment to everyone in the County, and some thing we cannot continue to tolerate,” he told his Council colleagues.
“It seems everywhere you go there is rubbish left on the road side, dumped in our bogs and in the hedges. It’s unsightly and unhealthy and it seems to just be getting worse and worse despite the best efforts of the Council and community and voluntary groups to tackle this problem.”
Director of Service, Environment, Emergency and Cultural Services, Martin Dolan, admitted that the Council “continues to expend considerable time, effort and scarce resources into all aspects of environmental awareness and environmental enforcement with a view to eliminating the scourge of roadside littering throughout the County”.
He said that although massive investment had been made in raising environmental awareness at all levels over many years there were still serious incidents of littering in Co Leitrim.
While the intervention of education programmes such as the Green Schools Programme and special initiatives such as Adopt a Road - currently undertaken by 37 groups across the county - and the success of projects such as the Spring Clean Programme, there were still serious litter issues in Co Leitrim.
Mr Dolan paid tribute to the staff of the Council and especially to the many volunteers who go out on a regular basis to tackle the problem of littering.
“The dedicated Tidy Towns Committees in all of our towns and villages are constantly involved in clean-ups. Assistance in the form of small grants and in the provision of litter pickers, bags and protective clothing continue to be provided by the Council and in addition there is ongoing co-operation between these groups and individuals in the disposal of all material collected in ongoing clean-ups by the aforementioned,” he told the Council.
In addition, the Council’s Area Engineering staff have carried out litter picks along the National and some Regional Roads in recent times, one of which netted nearly two skip-fulls of rubbish.
The Council is also actively involved in enforcement activities and in the taking of prosecutions.
“The biggest difficulty is in the identification of culprits. It is indeed very disappointing that so much roadside littering continues to take place despite the very significant public and private efforts to bring about a change in culture,” Mr Dolan admitted, stressing that it was important that people take a more responsible attitude to their waste.
“The message has to go out there that your have to deal with your waste responsibly,” he said.