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Vandals at Clare Abbey have been described in the Dáil as 'muck savages'. Photograph by John Kelly.

Clare landmark littered just hours after volunteers cleaned it

VOLUNTEERS who cleaned up a well known Clare landmark were shocked to discover that just hours later bags of rubbish were dumped again.

Clarecastle Tidy Towns volunteers have been striving to keep Clareabbey litter free, however a meeting of the Ennis Municipal District heard this week that their efforts have been undermined by illegal dumping.

Calls are being made by Ennis councillors for the introduction of CCTV in locations where fly-tipping and illegal dumping have become an issue. Councillor Paul Murphy praised the work of the Clarecastle volunteers, saying he believes that CCTV could act as a deterrent against dumping rubbish.

The issue of littering was highlighted at the meeting by Councillor Ann Norton who pointed out that illegal dumping “is a crime” which can result in fines or being brought to court.

She stressed the importance of ‘no dumping’ signs as a visible reminder and asked for a review of the number of signs on roads, and that the council replenish those broken or removed.

“There are a number of roads coming into Ennis that are targeted by fly dumping which is very frustrating for people who try to keep the Ennis Municipal District tidy.”

She said that illegal dumping “is an insult” to the people who are striving to keep Clare clean. “We need to make people aware of the fact that the bin is for rubbish and not the sides of roads or farms where it can cause huge problems for animals.”

Councillor Norton described the Clarecastle to Shannon road as “a dumping area” adding, “these people have no respect.”

Backing the motion, Councillor Mary Howard said it is “highly frustrating to see the amount of dumping and fly-tipping out there”.

Speaking about those who engage in illegal dumping she said, “It’s filthy, it’s disgusting, I often wonder what kinds of homes they were brought up in if that the level of respect they have.”
She added that charity shops are “haunted” by people leaving donations outside their doors.

She sought an update on the Circular Economy Act, which includes measures allowing local authorities to use GDPR-compliant technologies such as CCTV to detect and prevent illegal dumping and littering.

“We need to start making an example of these people at this stage, there are volunteers out there cleaning up, and they are only making a dent in it.”

Councillor Johnny Flynn insisted that people found guilty of illegal dumping should lose their driver’s licence. He blasted those who have “absolutely vandalised” beauty spots in the county saying those responsible “have no respect and seem to be more concerned with economic savings”.

He commented that people who drive to locations to dump their rubbish and who are convicted should lose their licence.

“They are getting the benefit of a state licence and if they are causing very, very serious environmental harm that should be a feature they lose subject to proper court proceedings,” he said.

Councillor Tom O’Callaghan commented it is “very upsetting” that the efforts of people who take “great pride in their communities” by cleaning up are being undermined.

“This is evident across the country. There is no excuse for people to be putting rubbish at the side of the road, it’s uncalled for. The legislation needs to be looked at, the technology is there. It’s a minority who does this and the only way to deal with it is to fine them and name and shame.”

Mayor of Ennis Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy stated that the issue of illegal dumping is something “very dear to our hearts to try and address it as best we can.”

Ennis Councillor Pat Daly, who previously voiced concerns about damage to headstones at the Abbey, also hit out at those behind the littering.

“Up to 10 bags of black rubbish  bags were just thrown there at Clareabbey, it’s not just good enough. A beautiful, peaceful area in the parish of Clarecastle where at least up to 50 pedestrians love to visit on a daily basis, and the likes of these culprits who are just trying to destroy such a magnificent Abbey.

“I like many more were in attendance when Minister of State Patrick O’ Donovan visited the Abbey, where he saw first hand the damage that was done to old graves as well as highlighting the
serious anti social behaviour that was happening there on a regular basis.”

Leonore O’Neill, senior executive officer, confirmed that the Circular Economy and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2022 was signed into law in July of last year. She said it has not been fully enacted and the council will endeavour to get an update.

Responding to Councillor Norton’s motion she stated, “Where Ennis MD are informed of specific locations where works are required to either replenish signs or increase their visibility, we will endeavour to undertake such works. 

“Ennis MD will separately contact the local Tidy Towns Committees namely Ennis, Barefield and Clarecastle to determine specific locations where there may be benefit in installing additional signage.”

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