By Dan Walsh
It is a staggering statistic, but 36% of households have no rubbish disposal bins, and at Monday’s monthly meeting of Enniscorthy Municipal District Council held with Microsoft Teams in compliance with Covid-19 protocol, members were shocked at the findings and wondered what can be done to extinguish the unacceptable scourge of littering and illegal dumping.
A commissioned analysis of bin usage in housing estates in Enniscorthy and Bunclody at undisclosed locations concluded that 36% of houses in the areas surveyed do not have a refuse bin!
“That is a huge amount that is not going into the rubbish collection system,” said District Manager, Ger Mackey, who added; “In one case on the Kiltealy road we collected 36 bags of rubbish – half a ton of litter from that road – and possibly you could pick a similar amount from the New Ross road out towards Clonroche. It is a minority who are offending, but we have seven staff working here in town and 60% of their time is spent picking up rubbish and dog fouling and they would be more productively employed making Enniscorthy better.”
Cathaoirleach Cllr Barbara-Anne Murphy described as “shocking” the District Manager’s observation that 60% of the Council staff in Enniscorthy are picking up other people’s rubbish and dealing with dog fouling. “The local authority is expected to clean up after 36% of people who refuse to get bins. “That is absolutely shocking,” she concluded.
Cllr John O’Rourke recalled a trend in Enniscorthy and Ferns of people stockpiling rubbish in their back gardens that created rat infestation problems. “Neighbours are stockpiling and don’t have a bin. This is a crazy carry on”, he added.
Cllr Jackser Owens said he was baffled at the figure – 36% don’t have bins – and asked the District Manager; “do you know who these people are? He replied, ‘yes’ and Cllr Owens queried “can we write to these people and ask them where their rubbish go?” Cllr Owens said that “everywhere you go you see bags on the roads. This is not good enough. Everybody should have a bin. It is as simple as that and they should subscribe to the service like everybody else.”
Cllr Kathleen Codd-Nolan said they have taken “the carrot and the stick approach” to disposal of rubbish and “nothing seems to be working” a system that works needs to be devised and she said “if 36% of people in a housing estate haven’t got bins they should be pursued, bring them to the courts, and what funding is spent on cleaning up after people that can’t take responsibility for themselves – it’s just beyond a joke at this stage!
Cllr Aidan Browne referred to the 36% figure as “shocking” and he recalled recently reporting a housing estate issue and he complimented the District Manager on attempting to find out who has or has not bins and “he is trying to get it cleaned up” and he suggested “outside the box” thinking was necessary such as signage and education through the schools as a way forward.
Cllr Cathal Byrne recalled that last year 22 people were convicted in the courts for illegal dumping, and he believed they should “be named and be shamed” and he felt that might be a role for the media!
Director of Services Carolyne Godkin summed up by agreeing with the members and admitting that she could not add much to the debate. “It is utterly disgraceful and unfortunately there is a portion of society that will only respond to enforcement and that means that we have to tackle individual households – over 50,000 household across the county – and it only takes a small portion of those households to create a disproportionate impact in terms of dumping on our estates and our roadways.”
Ms Godkin added that the waste disposal bye-laws require householders to demonstrate how they dispose of their waste. “We can’t force people to get a bin, but they have to be able to demonstrate how they dispose of their refuse in an appropriate manner,” she concluded.