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Rubbish dumped in an old lane behind a gateway on Thomas Davis St., Blackpool, Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Rubbish dumped in an old lane behind a gateway on Thomas Davis St., Blackpool, Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane.
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Rats, disease... Doctor's warning as rubbish dumping rises

RESIDENTS on the city's northside have been asked to report dumping immediately amid fears over health risks caused by discarded household rubbish.

Cllr. John Sheehan next to rubbish dumped off Assumption Road, Blackpool, Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Cllr. John Sheehan next to rubbish dumped off Assumption Road, Blackpool, Cork.
Picture: Denis Minihane.
The Evening Echo visited the Blackpool area with Councillor and local GP John Sheehan in recent days where a number of litter hotspots were identified where household rubbish had been dumped.

Mr Sheehan said the problem is “rampant” and added he has repeatedly seen dozens of bags of rubbish thrown into fields adjacent to Dublin Street and Thomas Davis Street.

“You are going to attract rats and there is a risk is that someone could get Weil's disease,” he said.

“The rats are urinating on the rubbish and they move and spread it. Kids playing could easily pick that up."

Weil's disease can affect the kidneys and cause bleeding by a bacteria entering the body through broken, grazed or cut skin especially on the hands and feet and sometimes through the lining of the mouth, nose and eyes.

“In the heat, the rubbish will ferment and attract maggots and poses a significant risk to children playing,” Mr Sheehan added, noting that the recent dry spell was causing rubbish to rot in public areas.

Rubbish dumped off Assumption Road, Blackpool, Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Rubbish dumped off Assumption Road, Blackpool, Cork.
Picture: Denis Minihane.
A recent report by the Irish Businesses Against Litter (IBAL) group found parts of the northside of the city to be “seriously littered”.

Cork City Council estimates that the cost of street cleaning in 2017 amounted to over €7.2m. Michael Sheehan of the Environment Directorate at City Hall told the Evening Echo earlier this year that litter wardens were undertaking night patrols. The Council has hired three new litter wardens to tackle the problem across the city.

Mr Sheehan has praised the Council's approach to tacking dumping but has called for more deterrent measures such as the installation of CCTV in areas with regular littering problems.

New bylaws which are scheduled to be introduced by the end of 2018 will allow local authorities to ask residents for proof of how they dispose of their waste. Fines of up to €2500 will be incurred in cases where the resident can't prove they have disposed of it responsibly.

“Everyone produces some waste and you have to be able to show how you get rid of it. If you can't show how you get rid of it then that's a little bit of a red flag,” said Mr Sheehan.

“It might change the culture of it because dumping has become crazy over the last 18 months or so.

“Even at Cork City Council depots, they are finding bags dumped every morning.

"If people see someone getting away with, they say 'what should I pay for it when another person isn't?'. People are also strapped for cash, paying high rents and budgets are tight.

“If someone is determined to dump they will find a way to do it whether it's in the inner city or a mattress out in the county.

“It isn't acceptable and It's a bit like the problem we had with plastic bags until the levy came in. We need to change our culture like it has changed in relation to seatbelts, drink driving and smoking,” he added.

Cork City Council's Litter Free phone number is 1800 22 22 26.