Cork County councillors have called for action to address littering at amenities and beauty spots across the county which they say are being “destroyed” by the problem.
A motion by Cllr Seamus McGrath and Cllr Audrey Buckley, which requested that the county council prepare a specific litter enforcement response to the increase in outdoor activity this summer, was discussed at this week's full council meeting.
Calling for a multi-agency approach and enforcement activity outside of normal business hours, Cllr Seamus McGrath said that with some of the county’s beautiful amenities, there is, unfortunately “a dark side”.
“That dark side is the amount of littering that takes place when people gather.”
He described it as a “widespread problem” and also noted the council’s awareness campaigns but said that there is a certain section of society to which this does not reach.
“That section can only be dealt with through active enforcement of particular laws,” he said.
Cllr McGrath described enforcement as of a low activity level while at the weekends it is “virtually non-existent.”
“When you consider the amount of littering acts that take place, there is virtually no chance of someone being caught or fined or prosecuted for the littering acts they carry out over the weekend and that’s not good enough.”
Cllr McGrath asked that the Chief Executive have a meeting with An Garda Siochana to “see how we can work in a better way together”.
Speaking on the issue, Cllr Audrey Buckley said that seven bags of rubbish were collected in a 24-hour period on Sunday and called for enforcement.
“We live in these communities that are getting destroyed in a sunny day and it’s just not fair,” she added.
The motion was also supported by Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Mary Linehan Foley who said she also saw the issues with littering in her own area over the weekend, particularly with takeaway food.
She said she was “at a loss” herself on how to resolve the issue.
In response, Chief Executive Cork County Council Tim Lucey said that people need to act responsibly, adding that over 300 litter fines were issued last year.
Mr Lucey said that enforcement is about “challenging people” and he believes this would pose a risk.
“When I see what has gone on already around the country in certain locations, I am not satisfied that even if we had the resources that staff would be operating in a safe environment.”
“I don’t think that’s the answer for this particular issue,” he added.