Dirty old town: ‘I’ve seen people throwing bags on the street’

Dublin’s north inner city ranks lowest in Irish Business Against Litter survey

Dublin’s north inner city retained its place at the foot of the latest Irish Business Against Litter (Ibal) rankings table, a case of more of the same for locals who say they are fed up with the area’s dirty reputation.

While a build-up of streetside rubbish could be expected the day after an All-Ireland final in nearby Croke Park, sightings of bags of household waste in laneways and local concerns about the dumping of used drug paraphernalia reveal wider problems.

The north inner city has consistently struggled in the Ibal survey, and its repeated inclusion as one of the limited number of areas inspected is intended to drive an improvement. However, one middle-aged woman passing Gloucester Place off Gardiner Street said there had been no change in recent years. She said the amount of littering and dumping in the locality was “disgraceful”.

“It’s after getting worse. I’ve seen people throwing bags on the street, but you can’t say anything to them,” she adds.


‘Drug epidemic’

The woman, who asked not to be identified, said littering was not the only problem facing the area. “The drug epidemic is really after getting worse. It’s everywhere where I live, all the tablets they’re selling and whatever.”

Local woman Kathy Ryan says children cannot be brought from the crèche on Sean McDermott Street to the park across the road without a sweep for discarded syringes being conducted beforehand.

“That’s the first thing we’re told to check for anywhere before we bring the kids, but that park is very bad,” she says.

Ms Ryan is more preoccupied with the presence of dog droppings on the street than what she characterises as “the odd bit of litter”, a point which Drew Treacy, who lives in Drumcondra but volunteers with St Vincent De Paul on Sean McDermott Street, is in agreement with.

“People need to be educated on it. This is my city, this is my town. We look after our own little patch…We have a dog and we wouldn’t go anywhere without the bags,” he says.

Ambling up towards Summerhill with a bin containing an array of waste items is Dublin City Council worker Vincent Mahon: "They use the laneways for taking drugs and if they want to go to the toilet, that's where they'll do it. Dog dirt you'd expect, a dog doesn't have to take its trousers down," he says.

Mahon is of the opinion that measures to deter illegal dumping such as installing CCTV cameras and gates on laneways has worked.

Poor planning

He wants to see a wider rollout of imaginative initiatives such as the posting of dumpers’ images on walls, a practice which last year drew rebuke from the Data Protection Commissioner and has not been repeated since.

Ibal said poor planning when locating social housing and difficulties in bringing householders to court for illegal dumping were the main causes of persistant littering in urban areas.

The latest survey found no improvement in the volume of litter dropped in disadvantaged urban areas of Dublin, Limerick and Cork and prompted calls from local politicians for domestic waste charges to be relaxed.

Councillors claimed the absence of waivers was exacerbating litter and fly-tipping problems but criticised a claim by Ibal that the absence of “a sense of community” was a contributory factor.

Cllr Mary Fitzpatrick (FF) called for the re-introduction of domestic bin collections in the area with a waiver scheme. “Since privatisation of domestic bin collections in 2012, illegal dumping has spiralled out of control, charges increased and 40,000 low income households which availed of the waiver have been left with no affordable collection service,” she added.

The Department of the Environment said there would be increased funding to tackle illegal dumping in the 2018 budget. It was also supporting deployment of smart technology to identify illegal dumpers, especially where they attempt to evade detection by not putting identifiable information in waste.