Survey finds Cobh to be dirtiest town in Ireland


COBH IS the dirtiest town in Ireland, according to a new litter league table. The Co Cork town ranked as the worst litter black spot in 2008 in a survey of 55 towns and cities carried out by An Taisce for the lobby group Irish Business Against Litter (Ibal).

The mayor of Cobh said the findings of the survey, which also deemed Tullamore, Co Offaly, and Bray, Co Wicklow, to be seriously littered last year, were “unfair” and “frustrating”.

However, most towns in Ireland have cleaned up substantially since the annual survey began in 2002, when almost two-thirds of Irish towns were judged to be litter black spots. The latest figures indicate 36 out of 55 towns surveyed found to be litter free, compared to only two towns when the league began in 2002.

Ibal said the latest statistics were good news and there had been a national transformation over the last seven years.

“We are delighted to see two-thirds of towns attaining litter-free status, but very disappointed that three towns have been classed as seriously littered, especially as they have all received poor ratings in previous surveys,” Ibal chairman Dr Tom Cavanagh said.

Five towns, including Cork city, were considered to be littered, while a further 11 towns, among them Dublin City, were deemed to be “moderately littered”.

The survey, which is based on three visits to the town at the start, middle and end of the year, found that Cobh suffered “from very high levels of litter” on approach roads and kerbsides.

“The local authorities here [Cobh, Tullamore and Bray] simply haven’t tackled this issue with the same vigour as most other councils,” Dr Cavanagh said.

The Labour Party mayor of Cobh, John Mulvihill jnr, said he thought the survey was unfair as it only took a brief snapshot life of the town.

“I find it very frustrating when they just come to a town for a day here or there because these things cast a shadow on an area for a long time,They have to realise the damage these surveys can do. We have acted in recent years to overcome the problems but this damages the local tourist economy and reputation of the town.”

Mr Mulvihill said Cobh was spending more money than ever before to try and eradicate the problem. “I won’t say there’s nothing wrong, we have work to do and it’s being done. The Town Council spent €115,000 on cleaning up to October of last year, even though our budget was tighter than in previous years.”

The tidiest town will be identified at a ceremony in Dublin today.

Cavan, Dungarvan, Fermoy, Howth and Sligo, which finished bottom of the 2007 league, are the contenders.

Dr Cavanagh reserved praise for Tallaght, which was the “most improved town” in the league. “If it stays clean and well presented, in time the benefits to the community will be significant,” he said.