THERE was dismay at the Joint Policing Meeting in Portlaoise this week from Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald, over the number of people being prosecuted in court for littering in Laois.
The County Council report presented at the meeting by director of services, Declan Byrne revealed that, “despite the Council’s best efforts, illegal dumping continues to spoil our rural countryside, bog lands and wooded areas”, with “dashboard dining” contributing to roadside mess.
In total 621 litter complaints were received by the environment section in 2010, with 389 received so far this year. Council figures show that 303 fines were issued last year, compared to 111 so far this year; 71 prosecutions were brought against offenders in 2010, compared with 19 to date in 2011; 32 convictions were recorded in 2010, compared to 11 this year; and 19 notices were served in 2010, with 4 recorded this year.
But Cllr Fitzgerald was not happy with the number being brought to court.
“I’m very disappointed in the prosecution figures. There’s definitely not less littering out there, I’d like to see more emphasis placed on this issue,” said the Portlaoise councillor.
Cllr James Daly agreed saying that during the recent Laois Walks Festival he had seen rubbish, including electrical goods which could easily be disposed of at Kyletalesha, dumped in some of the county’s more beautiful areas.
“It’s either a lack of awareness, or ignorance, or pure bloody criminal activity,” he said.
“The recent figures say they’re getting away with it too,” added Cllr Fitzgerald. “It’s terrible that people have to go out and lift other people’s litter.”
Director of services, Declan Byrne pointed out to Cllr Fitzgerald that the 2010 figures for prosecution covered a 12-month period, while the 2011 figures only bring us up to July, hence the apparent drop in numbers.
Cllr Daly concluded the matter by pointing out that the gardaí and litter wardens are doing their job, now it’s up to the public.
“The public never learn,” he lamented.