Athlone councillor returns fridge-freezer full of rotting food to illegal dumper

‘While this was just one fridge and one dumper in one estate, I think everyone in Ireland can relate to the incident’

Cllr Aengus O’Rourke moving the dumped fridge

Faced with the sight of a fridge-freezer full of rotting food dumped on the green in a housing estate in Athlone, Co Westmeath, Aengus O'Rourke, a local Fianna Fáil councillor, decided that enough was enough.

“With the local litter warden, I went to this man’s house and knocked at his door, but he refused to come out,” said Cllr O’Rourke, the mayor of Athlone and the son of former Fianna Fáil minister, Mary O’Rourke.

“I left a note inside his door asking to take his fridge back, but when I returned the next day, the fridge was still there. I was angry. Three or four residents had actually come out to confront him when this was done in broad daylight.

“I just felt he was giving two fingers to everyone on the estate,” said Cllr O’Rourke, who decided that if the man would not take back his illegally dumped fridge-freezer then he would bring it back and put it on the offender’s doorstep. Which he did.



A public representative for the past 12 years, Cllr O’Rourke was loudly applauded by several tidy towns groups and environmental bodies from across the country, though some on social media complained that he had no right to act as he did.

In a bid to highlight the growing scourge of indiscriminate fly-tipping, Cllr O’Rourke last month rolled out his own ‘Report Illegal Dumping’ campaign by erecting signs at various litter blackspots in his town, and surrounding districts.

Despite his own desire to see legislation changed to allow serial dumpers to be “named and shamed”, the only avenue left open to local authorities to crack down on “premeditated littering” was to hit repeat offenders with punitive fines, he complained.

"While this was just one fridge and one dumper in one estate, I think everyone in Ireland can relate to the incident," he said. "The actions taken by this dumper and his feckless, brazen, nasty attitude is probably typical of those who choose to vandalise our environment on a regular basis.

“I would love to name and shame these people but the law currently prevents me from doing so. I have had to tread very carefully in everything I have done in this case not to let this guy off the hook.”