Piles of litter seen at country’s beauty spots after warm weekend
Hazel Chu asks public to respect Portobello area following complaints from residents
Walkers on Sandymount Strand, Dublin. File photograph: Alan Betson
Beautiful weather across the island at the weekend has brought piles of litter to the State’s towns, coastal areas and beauty spots, with Portobello in Dublin particularly inundated with rubbish within hours of the Lord Mayor’s appeal for people to keep it clean.
Over the weekend, large numbers of people across Ireland have been gathering with friends, making the most of the good weather as temperatures inland reached towards 20 degrees in places.
Photographs and videos on social media show little attempts to keep two metres apart or wear face masks in places, from Salthill in Galway to St Stephen’s Green in Dublin.
Gardaí dispersed crowds at Salthill on Saturday night after large groups gathered enjoying the sunny weather. Crowds also gathered at Salthill and Sandycove in Co Dublin as Dubliners flocked to beaches from Howth to Greystones and points further.
On Sunday Deputy Garda Commissioner Anne Marie McMahon urged the public to enjoy the weather responsibly, as AA Roadwatch reported heavy traffic and delays on all approaches to Sutton Cross, Clontarf Road, Dollymount Strand while Strand Road was busy in both directions through Portmarnock.
Malahide Road was said to be slow both ways approaching Northern Cross, there were delays on Old Military Road (R115) passing the Hell Fire Club and approaches to Bray and to Glendalough in Co Wicklow.
“With good weather forecast this weekend we would ask people to continue to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. Please limit your social contacts,” Ms McMahon said.
However, an appeal from the Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu for people to respect the public amenity of Portobello on the Grand Canal appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
Ms Chu issued the appeal on Friday as the weekend got underway. Under the heading Portobello Matters, the mayor launched a Dublin City Council social media appeal asking people to respect the Portobello area and desist from outdoor drinking there.
She said the appeal was in response to numerous complaints from residents about people leaving their rubbish behind and people frequently urinating and even defecating outside homes. “We want everyone to be able to enjoy the space but the above behaviours are simply not okay,” she said.
But on Saturday the area, along with many others along Dublin’s canals, was packed with revellers who left beet cans, bottles and assorted rubbish on walls, window ledges and in piles on the ground.
In Co Wexford local TD Malcolm Byrne appealed for a “level playing pitch” for registered mobile home parks who “are playing by the rules and staying closed” in the face of some operators who have simply opened up in defiance of advice from Fáilte Ireland and the National Public Health Emergency Team.
Mr Byrne said the influx of Dubliners into Co Wexford this weekend has been much bigger than anything experienced by locals so far this year. Hundreds of registered mobile home parks, holiday self-catering accommodation and facilities such as stables for horse riding are required to remain closed to visitors, even from within their own county.
The Department of Tourism has advised the Irish Caravan and Camping Council that such parks and activities involve “non-essential services” and “mobile homes and pitches are considered under accommodation services, in the same manner as hotels and B&Bs”.
Con Quill of the Irish Caravan and Camping Council, which runs the brand Camping Ireland, said his organisation was proposing “safe tourism packages” for the domestic market through controlled outdoor environments and self-contained accommodation – to be available from May 2021 in every county in Ireland.
He said a “safe tourism package” is defined as the ability for a family/household bubble to engage in day activities, enjoy self-contained accommodation and take advantage of hospitality takeaway food available – “all with strict adherence to any operational guidelines including minimal/no customer-staff touch points, social distancing, sanitisation where required and no mixing of bubbles indoors”.
He said many people failed to understand why a family or a couple could not now travel within their own county to a mobile home park and sit on their deck in the sunshine where all mobile homes are a regulation six metres apart. He said horse riding and cycling in the open air was unlikely to be a high-risk activity.
Met Éireann said Sunday would remain dry and mostly sunny with highest temperatures of 14 to 18 degrees with the warmest in the west. Monday is also set to start dry and sunny with a little cloud at times turning the sunshine hazier.
During the afternoon, thickening cloud will push in from the north with some showery rain developing over Ulster and north Connacht towards the evening. Highest temperatures of 15 to 18 degrees but cooler in all coastal areas. Winds will become north-westerly during the afternoon and increase moderately to fresh.