Majority of towns clean but 2016 sees rise in litter levels nationally

3 January 2017 Latest News Local News National News News

  • No litter blackspots but ’disappointing’ deterioration in Dublin City
  •  Galvone in Limerick City at foot of rankings
  • Dumping replacing litter as critical environmental issue

2016 saw an increase in litter levels across Ireland, especially in city areas, but almost three quarters of our towns were Clean to European Norms. The latest survey by business group Irish Business Against Litter showed Galvone in Limerick City to be bottom of its ranking of 40 towns and cities. The cleanest town will be announced at lunchtime today in the Merrion Hotel in Dublin.

70% of the towns and cities surveyed by An Taisce on behalf of IBAL were found to be Clean to European Norms, compared to 85% two years ago. Litter levels rose by 4% over the period. While once again there were no litter blackspots, three urban areas were deemed to be seriously littered – Galvone in Limerick, Farranree in Cork and Dublin’s North Inner City. Waterford City was again among the top ranking areas, but Dublin City Centre and Limerick City both slipped to join Galway City as ‘moderately littered’.

“The poor showing by our cities generally goes some way to explaining the overall increase in litter levels,“

says Conor Horgan of IBAL. “Last year all our major cities other than Dublin were clean, this time round the majority are littered.” Mahon in Cork and Tallaght were among the areas to show most improvement in this latest survey. Portlaoise and Ennis also performed strongly in 2016. Ashbourne, Kildare, Roscommon,

Thurles and Waterford City are vying for the title of Ireland’s cleanest town, to be revealed later today. Last year’s winner, Longford, was Clean to European Norms in 15th place. The IBAL report again illustrates how dumping is at the heart of Ireland’s litter problem.

“The problem is becoming less about cleaning up after kids have dropped sweet papers on the main street,“

says Horgan.

“It’s about people deliberately and covertly evading bin charges by illegally disposing of their rubbish on wasteland or derelict sites, which then become magnets for all sorts of litter. Dumping needs to be higher on the political agenda, as it’s an issue that really matters to people, and to our economy.”

“The good news is that we are nowhere near as littered a nation as we were fifteen years ago, when only two towns were Clean to European Norms. However, we have seen some worrying slippage across both cities and towns. The restructuring of local government and the abolition of town councils may be partly to blame outside of our cities. “With record numbers of tourists flocking to Ireland, the increasing level of litter is a trend we need to arrest quickly, as it will have a direct and immediate impact on the visitor experience. O’Connell St, Grafton St and Stephens Green, for example, have all slipped to moderately littered.”

The An Taisce inspectors highlighted a number of blackspots within Dublin’s North Inner City, with Gardiner Lane ‘very neglected’, and vandalism, graffiti and dumping in evidence on Railway Street and the adjoining playground. Aldborough Place, Rutland Street and Poplar Row were all seriously littered. “We have seen the efforts and investment of Dublin City Council in this area and this result is a disappointment after the progress of the previous year. Managing an urban area of this nature is problematic and we hope this is just a blip on the way to sustained improvement.”

Galvone in Limerick meanwhile, was deemed ‘seriously littered’ with parts of the industrial estate “in a terrible condition” and an Irish Rail area used as a dumping ground. Castle Oaks View was let down “due to the derelict houses and wasteland area which have been subject to dumping”. Farranree in Cork registered a “noticeable improvement”, with no blackspots in evidence, but was adjudged “seriously littered” overall, with only one litter-free site. There was a noticeable increase in the prevalence of sweet wrappers, plastic bottles and cans across all the sites surveyed, with a slight fall off in cigarette butts.


Kildare has been announced as the cleanest town in Ireland. The announcement was made at the Finale of the 2016 Anti-Litter League by Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) in the Merrion Hotel in Dublin today. Kildare finished ahead of Roscommon and Ashbourne, with Waterford City in fourth

The top 5 towns in last year’s league – Kildare, Roscommon, Ashbourne, Waterford and Thurles – will all receive an Emperor Lime tree courtesy of the Irish Tree Centre in Cork.

Image Credit: Virtual Tourist

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