A TIDY Towns expert was surprised by Portlaoise's rating as the dirtiest town in Ireland, but he urged local people to act on the rating.
Frank Donaldson believes the community, helped by Laois County Council, should use the result to climb back up the Irish Business Against Litter League survey. The consultant, who has carried out a Tidy Towns strategy for the town and Laois, said he has known Portlaoise for many years since his wife hails from Ballyfin.
"I was actually surprised when I saw the report. But I think what Portlaoise has to bear in mind is that it is a snap shot of how that place was on that particular day," he said.
Last summer Mr Donaldson carried out a detailed study of Portlaoise's cleanliness. He said he was struck by the improvement.
"The place was cleaner than the last time I had a general look at it," he said.
Nevertheless, Mr Donaldson, who heads up Donaldson Tourism and Heritage Consultancy, said people should draw inspiration from the poor showing.
"What I would say to the people of Portlaoise is take something positive from the IBAL findings. Take it on the chin and set about rectifying it by rising up the order next time," he said.
He said Laois County Council's role would be crucial.
"I can't think of a town or a village that has done well in Tidy Towns that has not had a partnership with the local authority. Many local authorities have played a huge role in Tidy Towns over the years," he said.
Mr Donaldson's three year plan estimates that Laois could rise up the National Tidy Town ranking if it followed a range of recommendations. Mr Donaldson found that Portlaoise could achieve 300 points in the Tidy Towns over the space of three years