Cork and Cobh are rated dirtiest
CORK IS Ireland's most littered city and nearby Cobh its dirtiest town, according to the latest survey carried out for Ibal, the Irish Business Against Litter campaign.
The survey - the second carried out by An Taisce for Ibal this year - also brought disappointing news for Tullamore, Co Offaly.
The town, which had protested its position as one of Ireland's blackspots in the previous survey in June, has retained a ranking as "seriously littered", alongside Cobh and Bray, Co Wicklow.
But there was good news overall with "spectacular improvements" recorded in litter levels across the State.
The survey ranked Cavan as the cleanest town in the Republic with the status: "Clean to European norms".
The judges also made special mention of Galway. In a result described as "spectacular", it achieved second place on the list, the highest achieved to date by a city in the Ibal survey.
In common with Galway, Limerick and Waterford were also rated "litter free", or "clean to European norms".
Dublin was only slightly behind, being classified as "moderately littered".
Chewing gum was once again a major source of litter, the survey found, with over 50 tonnes of it dropped on streets annually. Ibal, an alliance of companies set up in 1996 to campaign for a litter-free environment, has called for the implementation of a tax on chewing gum, forcing manufacturers to produce biodegradable chewing gum.
"Chewing gum is the largest blight on our streets with over 50 tonnes dropped on the streets annually," said Ibal chairman Dr Tom Cavanagh.
"It stays there as it cannot be swept up. Ibal would like to see the implementation of a tax on chewing gum, forcing manufacturers to produce biodegradable chewing gum and the polluter to pay."
Overall the Ibal survey indicated an improvement in cleanliness standards in Irish towns, with 60 per cent of towns now clean to European norms - the highest percentage recorded.
All 55 towns with a population of 6,000 or over were surveyed, and of these 33 achieved the "European norms" standard.
"Ibal's experience is that once a town achieves litter-free status for two to three years, it tends to stay clean," said Dr Cavanagh.
He said it was particularly disappointing to see Cobh at the bottom of the league, as it was a harbour town welcoming about 70,000 tourists from visiting luxury cruise liners every summer.
"Greeting tourists with litter and weeds creates a very poor first impression of Ireland", he said. "It is all the more disappointing as Cobh, with its beautiful setting, has enormous potential."
Litter survey: results