Littering and illegal dumping in east Donegal is a massive issue and enforcement must be stepped up.
That was the main message to come from this week’s meeting of the Lifford-Stranorlar Municipal District (MD).
Chairman of the MD, Cllr Gary Doherty, said the issue is ‘unreal’ and must be addressed at the most senior level in the council.
He said a recent community cleanup in Castlefin had attracted more than 120 volunteers and that they had to order an extra skip.
“Our community cleanup was a huge success and I have nothing but praise for the volunteers and the local Litter Warden, Caroline Meehan,” Cllr Doherty said.
“Illegal dumping is unreal and it is very sad to see the amount of litter strewn about. There needs to be a conversation on what to do about this. At the recent full meeting of the council, it emerged that there have only been 14 prosecutions in the last five years and people ignoring signs.”
Cllr Doherty added that, when he was at National School, there was a litter problem. However, teachers organised an awareness campaign and if any students caught littering they were fined.
“That might sound draconian, but it worked and maybe we need to start a pilot scheme like that again.”
Cllr Martin Harley also thanked the Litter Warden for her excellent work in the MD. He said he was involved in the recent community cleanup in the Twin Towns.
“We spent four days cleaning up the Twin Towns, but two weeks later and some areas were littered again,” Cllr Harley said.
“We found bottles, cans and paper that can all be recycled for free. We also found a TV dumped at Stranorlar Bridge, just 400 metres from the recycling centre.”
Cllr Patrick McGowan suggested that the Traffic Warden in the Twin Towns could be checking on dog littering as well as issuing fines to offenders.
Mr Paul Gallagher, of the Donegal County Council’s Environmental Service, said he was also very frustrated at the disregard for the litter laws.
“This is all despite our best efforts,” Mr Gallagher said.
“The council’s Waste Awareness Officer, Suzanne Bogan, is putting in a huge amount of work with schools. We are carrying out ongoing enforcement and awareness but it continues to be a huge problem. Hopefully the penny will finally drop with some people.”
Mr Gallagher said the council might embark on another awareness campaign in relation to the free services available at the local recycling centre in Stranorlar.