Letterkenny is very happy with its efforts to bring a sparkle and a smile to people’s faces. This is despite two heavily littered sites in Letterkenny, deemed to have robbed the Cathedral town of its ‘litter free’ status of last year, according to the latest survey carried out by Irish Business against Litter (IBAL).
Cllr Dessie Larkin said that the town had a clear and determined goal - aiming towards the yearly Tidy Town awards. That would continue to be the yardstick by which they were happy to be judged by.
He told the Democrat: “We are proud of our town, we have made huge progress in terms of where we are now and where we were over a decade ago. We have earned gold medals as a large urban centre, come within three points of the overall winners and have pipped both Glenties and Malin in recent years, two of the most respected clean towns and villages to have entered the Tidy Towns in Donegal, since it first began.
“I am on record about the impact and reaction to IBAL reports, good bad or indifferent. They had a thing about the bus station some years ago and that was always dragging down the points. Now it’s two specific locations that they have, in one case describing it as ‘waste ground beside Century Cinemas’ and the cinema not even owning the property in question.
“It is a bit short sighted, as is their adjudication, even when adding up the number of grade As and Bs that they gave to all areas in Letterkenny bar two.”
He also ‘rubbished’ claims that one of the reasons why Letterkenny had been downgraded had to do with lack of commitment or the reduction in finances from the local council.
“The comment was made by IBAL Chairman Dr Tom Cavanagh on radio that this could be a possible explanation. It was a speculative comment, not based on fact and one that can clearly be refuted,” he added
An Taisce, who carried out the survey said: “There were six top ranking sites in Letterkenny but the overall ranking would have been significantly higher if it wasn’t for the two very heavily littered sites at Larkin’s Lane and the waste ground beside Century Cinemas – these both appear to have suffered long-term neglect and surely somebody must be held accountable for these sites? They may not be important areas but they are still part of Letterkenny. Lidl, McDonald’s and the Riverside Retail Office Park were all in very good order and clear of litter.”
Letterkenny, they say, is now ranked joint 38th position of 53 towns in the latest survey.
The league table of 53 areas across the country showed two–thirds of towns and cities to be clean to European norms, among them the cities of Waterford, Galway and, for the first time, Cork. Also for the first time since the League began, Killarney took the accolade of cleanest town, with the An Taisce examiners calling it “a superb result for our No.1 tourist town”.
IBAL has warned that the economic downturn has led to specific litter problems, with the rise in vacant commercial properties, alongside ghost estates and derelict sites, an increasing issue. “No one feels responsible for such areas, which are often eyesores and magnets for litter,” says Dr Tom Cavanagh, chairman of IBAL.
“On the one hand local authorities need to pursue absentee landlords who fail to maintain these sites. On the other, the problem calls for volunteerism by local communities.”
Sweet wrappers were the most prevalent source of litter, followed by cigarette butts, fast food wrappings, plastic bottles and chewing gum. Supermarkets and fast food outlets were the sites most likely to be heavily littered.