A Cork litter picking group say they are “disappointed but not necessarily surprised” with a new report which ranks Cork city centre and Mahon amongst the worst spots in the country for littering.
Each year, business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) commissions An Taisce to carry out litter surveys of Ireland’s main towns and cities. The final litter survey of 2022 ranks Cork city centre and Mahon at 38th and 40th place respectively, out of 40 areas surveyed.
said Rory McDonnell, who started the Cork City Clean Up Crew during the pandemic, that now go out litter picking in the city twice a month.
Cork city centre was amongst the three worst areas in the national rankings for litter, with An Taisce reporting the city centre “continues to struggle” with litter, as fewer than half of the sites surveyed were deemed clean.
Mr McDonnell said groups of five to ten volunteers heading out litter picking in the city could easily fill a 100L bag of rubbish per person in two hours, and sometimes two bags each.
“I am concerned obviously that we ranked so low yet again, but definitely not surprised,” he said.
He noted that drug litter and broken glass bottles are increasingly prevalent, and something the groups makes a particular effort to clear up.
Mr McDonnell said that Cork City Council has been very supportive of their litter picking group, and he would be slow to criticise the efforts of council staff on the streets every day clearing rubbish. However, he said that more initiative is needed in tackling litter around the city.
“This is a volunteer group, we are not an alternative to an actually functioning recycling and litter collection department. We definitely punch above our weight with regards to how much litter we pick up,” he said.
Mahon is the only area in the country which was categorised as “seriously littered”, and An Taisce’s individual report shows it was one of the few areas to deteriorate year-on-year, with dumping identified as a “definite issue”.
Cork City South-East councillor Kieran McCarthy said he was disappointed with Mahon being “tarnished” by the report.
“There’s a great community down there… and the City Council are doing their best with people on the ground and cleaning crews on the ground as much as possible, ” he said.
Cllr McCarthy said the issue of dumping is one that the council are doing their best to tackle, with hopes that CCTV surveillance could be a useful tool once GDPR related legislation is worked through by government.
Cork city’s North showed signs of improvement in 2022, having moved to 29th position with a final grade of “moderately littered”. The year before, the Northside was categorised as “heavily littered” and placed 37th, below both the city centre and Mahon.
Fianna Fáil councillor Tony Fitzgerald welcomed the improvement in the northside’s ranking, crediting it to hard work of the council and local community but criticized the lack of community engagement from those carrying out the survey.
“There will always be a minority that need convincing not to throw litter on the ground and for dumping that is inappropriate, and I suppose that is the challenge for us all,” he said.
Sinn Féin councillor Kenneth Collins also criticised how the survey is conducted, using flash inspections on one day rather than over a period of time.
However, he said that it is “great to have good news” for the northside in the report.
“This is good for the north side, the fact we’re after coming up the rankings. It’s down to funding basically, and those in communities keeping the rubbish off the road as well,” he said.