SURPRISE and disappointment greeted the final results of the IBAL Anti Litter League 2010, which deemed Portlaoise to be the dirtiest town in Ireland.
Laois County Council said they would take the Tidy Towns results, in which Portlaoise received a bronze medal, more seriously.
Director of services for the environment, John Daly said: "The Tidy Towns results are a lot more comprehensive and we would take them a lot more seriously than the IBAL survey. Obviously, we will deal with the issues raised in the IBAL, we won't ignore them."
Mr Daly said that while overall the result was disappointing, the town centre and approach roads all received A or B grades. "The results for the town centre and the approach roads, which are areas we concentrate on, were very good."
Mr Daly had visited the three sites which had received the lowest grades the day the report was published. "We found out yesterday (Monday) that the survey was carried out on September 20, there has been on-going works at the Topaz roundabout. There have been improvements made, and I could see very little litter when I visited yesterday."
Mr Daly said the council would pursue the developer who had abandoned the site near the Triogue estate. "We will go after the developer to get him to clean it up. We can't go in ourselves and carry out any work as it is in private ownership. I'm sure there are lots of other towns in a similar situation," he added.
The director of services said the environment section would sit down and find a solution for the field beside the Hillview estate. "Hillview itself seems fine, but there is a field beside it which is being used as a dumping ground. We will sit down and find a solution to this."
Local county councillor and Tidy Town's stalwart, Kathleen O'Brien, said she was flabergasted by the results. "I can't understand it, I'm very disappointed," she said, "there are some derelict sites around, but it doesn't warrant this tag."
"Whoever the judges were, they must not like Portlaoise. I would love to invite them to a meeting of Portlaoise Town Council, because Portlaoise is not the dirtiest town in Ireland."
Cllr O'Brien did admit that there was an issue in Hillview Drive, and said that the council would have to look at it. "I'm disappointed for the traders who sweep outside their premises every day. They are just trying to make a living, and this bad publicity doesn't help them. We got a bronze medal in the Tidy Towns this year, but yet this survey says we are the dirtiest town in Ireland."
She hoped that the results wouldn't have a negative impact on the town. "Many people that have visited Portlaoise have come back again, and I've never heard one person complain about litter. Hopefully, this won't impact on tourism or visitors to our town. It doesn't make sense," she added.
President of the local Chamber of Commerce, Liam McEvoy said that Portlaoise had been unfairly judged. "It's not nice publicity and it's disappointing for the volunteers who put in such hard work, but I think Portlaoise was unfairly judged. Main Street and the retail parks faired well in the survey."
He said that developers had left sites without properly closing them up, but this had not been taken into consideration. "It's not good, but it's not going to have a detrimental effect, as Portlaoise still has a lot to offer."