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Joanne Dunphy Allen of Mountshannon Community Council highlighting the illegal dumping which is taking place at Mountshannon harbour. Photograph by John Kelly.

Spike in Illegal Dumping and Littering in East Clare

DUMPING and littering in East Clare have prompted calls from community organisations for more to be done to tackle the issues. While the Tidy Towns competition has been called off for this year, community leaders say they are still determined to address persistent littering in their areas.

In Mountshannon, which scooped a national Tidy Towns title in 1981 and a Bronze Medal last year, large-scale dumping of household waste has been a recurrent issue. Joanne Dunphy-Allen, Co-Chairperson of Mountshannon Community Council said that a recent incident had generated anger locally. “It is very maddening, particularly because the Scariff Recycling Centre is just down the road,” she pointed out. “We’ve had refuse scattered around the pier and someone even managed to dump a significant amount in at the back of the bottle banks. That would not be an easy thing to do. The community has been very quick to go in an clear up, but this shouldn’t be happening in the first place. There’s also an issue where people aren’t putting glass bottles into the recycling bin and just leaving them, which is creating a hazard.”

The latest incident has been reported to Clare County Council’s environment section, but more needs to be done, in Joanne’s view: “I’m in touch with the council regularly, and if something like the mobile CCTV units could be organised, it would mean the area around the bottle bank could be monitored because dumping is a regular issue there.”

The situation is something Joanne fears could impact on the area’s return to normal when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted: “Normally, at this time of year, everyone would be swimming and fishing. We depend on tourism in normal times and we shouldn’t have a situation where a handful of people are threatening that.”

The shelving of this year’s national Tidy Towns initiative is another factor causing some disappointment locally. “We had being doing a lot of preparations and had gotten a lot of people on board to contribute the application,” Joanne outlined. “We have been working with the council too who got the village re-tarred and the paths done. We were making plans now for seating, planting and pots, but these are unprecedented times and we have to abide by the public health guidelines for everyone’s sake. Because of the restrictions, our Community Employment (CE) scheme is on-hold for now. Tom McNamara and the team do amazing work and he’s still cutting the grass on a voluntary basis, which we’re very grateful for because it creates a sense of normality.”

Over in Kilkishen, the lock-down has made the problem of roadside litter more apparent. “Everybody is out walking at the moment,” noted Chairperson of the Kilkishen Development Association, Mike Hogan. “If you were in the car you mightn’t notice the amount of plastic rubbish. There are five approaches to the village and when you’re walking, the litter is unsightly.” Mike used his own daily walks to tackle the problem, collecting six large sacks of rubbish in just two days. “That involved bringing a litter picker, bags and gloves,” he said. “My walk was around 40 minutes and wore a mask too, but as long as you’re protected, it’s quite safe.” Like many people around the county, Mike has spotted an increase in litter from plastic gloves discarded from cars. “People seem to be driving through the village and just throwing the out the car window, which just doesn’t make sense.” Mike is encouraging others to consider picking up some litter on their own daily walks: “If everybody picked up three or four items, with the right protection and sanitising their hands properly, it would make a big difference.” Mike and the Development Association are also grateful for CE scheme members who continue to volunteer during the lock-down. “We have someone who is emptying the bins at the amenity park which looks out on the lake. That’s on a voluntary basis. It means a lot and we’re very grateful.”

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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