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There has been fly-tipping at the old ruins at Clareabbey. Photograph by John Kelly.

‘Soul destroying’ illegal dumping at historic Clare site


ILLEGAL dumping at Clare Abbey, one of the county’s most historic sites, has been described as “soul destroying”.

A meeting of the Ennis Municipal District this week saw Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy ask that the Clare Abbey Task Force Group be recalled and a meeting organised to address a number of concerns raised about the national monument.

She described “ongoing” problems of fly tipping and anti-social behaviour at the abbey on the outskirts of Ennis saying a meeting of the taskforce is needed.

A recalled meeting of the taskforce should also focus on accounting by the municipal district as to the recording of “dumping” complaints lodged, and action steps taken to address these complaints. The meeting would also help identify concrete proposals to improve “this longtime ongoing unacceptable situation”.

The councillor outlined that a previous meeting of the taskforce was attended by representatives of the OPW, council and local interested bodies. She said that illegal dumping in the area is
“soul destroying for the volunteers with Clarecastle Tidy Towns”.

Leonore O’Neill, Senior Executive Officer, responded, “The Clareabbey Task Force held a number of meetings to examine issues relating to Clareabbey, including those raised above.

“Please note that Clare County Council continue to use all powers available under existing legislation to deal with issues relating to fly tipping, illegal dumping and anti-social behaviour.”

Brendan Flynn, Senior Executive Engineer Environment added, “The Environment Section record all complaints relating to waste and litter on the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

Each complaint is investigated in a timely fashion. If required, appropriate enforcement action is taken under the Waste Management Act 1996, as amended or the Litter Pollution Act 1997, as amended.

“The Environment Patrol Warden will provide daily patrols in the Clareabbey area and will attend to any complaints received. The Environment Section will continue to work with the Ennis Municipal District to remove waste on public land in a timely fashion. The Environment Section will attend scheduled meetings of the Clareabbey Taskforce Group and provide an update on actions taken to date.”

The motion was seconded by Councillor Paul Murphy who recalled that the taskforce had been initially started in the wake of “wanton vandalism” at Clare Abbey.

He recalled Minister of State for the Office of Public Works, Mr. Patrick O’Donovan TD visited Clare Abbey and pledges were made to support improvements.

Councillor Murphy suggested that CCTV be examined as a possible solution. This was backed by Councillor Pat Daly who said, “Clareabbey is a beautiful area for walking. Anti-social behaviour has to stop down there.”

He recalled that headstones have been broken in the grave-yard saying, “this shouldn’t be happening in this day and age. CCTV would alleviate the problem”.

Responding to the idea of CCTV, Director of Service Carmel Kirby outlined that new legislation is before the Oireachtas to implement a Circular Economy, which provides for the GDPR-compliant use of technologies such as CCTV for waste enforcement purposes. (see Clare Champion story here)

This legislation needs to go through before expanding CCTV, she explained, and it is expected this will happen soon.

She acknowledged that CCTV can make “an awful difference in curtailing anti-social behaviour around fly-tipping.” Ms O’Neill confirmed the task force have met three times, once in person prior to the pandemic and the remaining times online.

She said that a lot of issues were raised and the council continues to work actively on addressing these within the powers available to the local authority. One of these was the need for CCTV, which is not resolvable at the moment pending the new legislation.

She added that all incidences of illegal dumping reported to the council are logged, addressed and dealt with within the local authority’s powers.

Councillor Colleran Molloy concluded by urging that a meeting of the Clare Abbey Task Force Group be convened.

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