Portlaoise is an example to others of how litter can be tackled according to Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) more than a decade after the Laois town was dumped with the title of being Ireland's dirtiest town.
Since 2002, IBAL has commissioned An Taisce to carry out litter surveys of Ireland's main towns and cities according to international standards. The towns and cities are then ranked in a league table format.
Portlaoise rarely performed will but the low point was hit in January 2011 when the Laois county town was deemed to bee the dirtiest in Ireland by inspectors. The result was a wake up call that led to community and local authority action.
Now more than a decade later in Octbober 2021, Portlaoise has been rated as the cleaniest town in Ireland in the IBAL table.
Conor Horgan of IBAL says Portlaoise not only leads but now shows the way.
“The result shows that a town can be very heavily littered but if the local authority, tidy towns and shopkeepers come together you can transform a town in a matter of years. This was not an overnight success Portlaoise was vying for this title for a number of years but the fact that they came from such a low place is a model for others to follow.
"It hasn't happened in a long time that we have seen a town rise a full 40 places. It's remarkable,” he said.
The An Taise judges made the following assessment of Portlaoise.
"Portlaoise has built on years of concerted effort and steady improvement to top the IBAL table for the first time. With so many top-ranking sites, there are a few which deserve a special mention. Fitzmaurice Place - formerly an amphitheatre - has now been transformed into a beautiful green space with lovely seating, grass area and planting.
"The Main Street and Church Street were both excellent in terms of streetscape and litter. Clearly a careful eye is kept on the Derelict Sites on Pepper Lane – while they presented poorly, there was no litter directly associated with them. The moderately littered area to the rear of the library was the only blemish in the town," said the judges.
Established in 1996 by businessman Dr Tom Cavanagh, IBAL says it is an alliance of companies sharing a belief that continued economic prosperity – notably in the areas of tourism, food and direct foreign investment – is contingent on a clean, litter-free environment. In addition, IBAL adds that it believes all citizens have the right to a clean living environment.
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