Inquiry into illegal dumping to be considered, Taoiseach says

RTÉ broadcast revealed ‘appalling levels of environmental criminality’, FF leader claims

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he will consider an inquiry into illegal dumping throughout the State.

He was responding in the Dáil on Tuesday to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who called for a "fact-finding based inquiry'' to get a national picture of what had been revealed in the RTE Investigates programme on Monday.

“It is the case that all of the cases raised in the programme last night are currently either under investigation or have been closed already,” Mr Varadkar said.

Mr Martin said he was disappointed with the Government's response, adding that the disposal of waste was an executive function within local authorities.

He said the issue should be dealt with legislatively and as an Oireachtas to turn a corner and make sure what had been revealed in the programme never happened again.

Mr Varadkar said he would be talking to Fine Gael councillors about the issue and assumed Mr Martin would do likewise with members of his party.

“The members need to hold the executive to account,” he added.


Mr Varadkar said while the compliance rate had improved, the system was far from perfect, adding that a certain minority felt flouting the law was worth the risk.

Mr Martin said the programme had revealed “appalling levels of environmental criminality and pitiful regulatory enforcement”. He said there was a governance regime which allowed for the wholesale and destructive pollution of our lakes, rivers, sea, land and forests.

The Fianna Fáil leader also said human health itself had been placed at risk by the criminality. The programme makers, who deserved credit for their work, had revealed a darker side to the Wild Atlantic Way, he added.

Mr Martin said appalling stories had been told about the illegal dumping of commercial, construction and household waste.

“Yet, there are only 150 people, combined across all the local authorities, who are involved in enforcement.”

He said enforcement itself needed to be resourced far more effectively and funding allocated for clean-up and waste recovery when illegal dumps were discovered.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times