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Councillor Gerry Flynn: ' important to refer the issue to Clare’s Oireachtas members to press ahead with the legislation'.

Clare councillor calls for dumping surveillance law change


CCTV at illegal dumping blackspots cannot be rolled out until new legislation is enacted, members of the Council have been told. 

In response to a motion from Councillor Gerry Flynn, the authority confirmed that the use of surveillance systems would breach privacy laws. The Independent member was told that the new Circular Economy Bill aims to change this. 

Outlining his proposals at last month’s Council meeting, Councillor Flynn noted that other authorities are reported to have successfully used surveillance.

There was widespread support for the motion. “There are two types of illegal dumping and one of them starts with illegal collection,” observed Councillor Michael Begley.

“We have to find a way of stamping out people who go around knocking on doors, with a small trailer or a van and saying, ‘I’ll take your rubbish for €1 a bag’, or whatever they charge for it. The vast majority of people say, ‘That’s grand,’ and give it to them on the assumption that they’re going to a proper waste disposal facility with their cargo. That’s not happening. I think we need to chase that rigidly and have no mercy on it.”

Councillor Joe Cooney agreed with a zero tolerance approach.

“The sooner we start naming and shaming and bringing large fines down on top of the culprits, we’ll cut this out. If we don’t do that, unfortunately, it’s going to continue.”

“We have all seen the blight of indiscriminate dumping,” added Councillor Joe Killeen. “Obviously, surveillance is the answer, but is it legal?”

Illegal dumping in the Burren

Councillor Donna McGettigan described Councillor Flynn’s proposal as “a great motion”. “I think we need to encourage people to look up Clare County Council’s website to see the list of registered rubbish removal people.”

Councillor Flynn said it would be important to refer the issue to Clare’s Oireachtas members to press ahead with the legislation. He also thanked the Environment Section for their work in tackling dumping. “They are fantastic and so responsive,” he said.

A written response to Councillor Flynn’s motion was provided by Cyril Feeney, Senior Engineer in Physical Development. Mr Feeney noted recent checkpoints in Shannon to target the illegal transport and disposal of waste. The reply also outlined extensive social media and educational initiatives. 

In respect of CCTV, the reply stated: “The use of CCTV for monitoring and investigating Illegal dumping is one that requires careful consideration as it impacts on the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

“The Data Protection Commissioner concluded that neither the Litter Pollution Act 1997, the Waste Management Act 1996 nor the Local Government Act 2001 are sufficient to meet the requirements of the law enforcement directive provisions in Part 5 of the 2018 Act regarding the deployment of CCTV cameras for law enforcement purposes.

“However, the Circular Economy Bill currently working its way through the Oireachtas aims to provide for the GDPR-compliant use of a range of technologies such as CCTV for waste enforcement purposes. When this legislation is enacted the use of such technology will support efforts to tackle illegal dumping and littering across County Clare.”

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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