Dublin areas again struggle in IBAL league


Dublin areas continue to struggle in the latest survey by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL).

Its study of 40 towns and cities showed Dublin City Centre has fallen to ‘heavily littered’ in lowly 38th place, while the North Inner City was again a ‘litter blackspot’ at the foot of the table.

Tallaght lost its Clean status but Dun Laoghaire was Clean in 7th spot.

PPE litter was found to be at its highest level since the pandemic began.

At the foot of the table, Dublin’s North Inner City showed some improvement but was branded a litter blackspot.

The worst areas included the Canal at Spencer Dock, with “fencing, old bicycles and discarded domestic items” among the litter in the water, Crinian Strand, where “huge swathes of all manner of litter were strewn along the pavement, along with bags of rubbish”, and Aldborough Place, where “bags of rubbish dominated”.

Ballymun and Tallaght both fell back after improvements in last summer’s survey.

“Frankly, there are few positives to draw from this survey when it comes to our main cities, said IBAL’s Conor Horgan.

“Covid is certainly a factor but it alone cannot explain a negative underlying trend of recent years in the cleanliness of our urban areas.”

PPE litter on the increase

The report showed PPE litter at record levels, with an increase in the presence of both masks and gloves. “It would appear that this litter is accumulating as the pandemic continues, as there remains an understandable reticence to pick up other people’s PPE,” says Conor Horgan. “The disposable blue face mask has become a ubiquitous part of the landscape up and down the country. People have not moved to reusable masks and people are not taking care of their masks.” International research* has found PPE litter accounting for as much as 5% of all litter, and likely to have “a devastating, lasting effect on the environment”. Mask use is forecast to remain high into 2022.

There was a significant rise in other pandemic-related litter, such as coffee cups, while alcohol-related litter remained at previous levels despite hospitality reopening and the survey being conducted in winter.

IBAL has frequently criticised the failure of local authorities to clean up sites identified in its surveys as heavily littered, and this was again the case. Of 89 such sites highlighted in summer last year, only 33% had been addressed by the time of this most recent survey.

“In our last study we flagged litter in our cities as having reached levels not seen in 10 years. Unfortunately, recent months have only brought further deterioration. Our towns are much cleaner than they were say 15 years ago, but it seems our cities have reverted to the bad old days of the noughties, with litter the norm rather than the exception,” concludes Conor Horgan.

2021 was the 19th year of the IBAL Anti-Litter League.

An Taisce reports:

“Two litter blackspots saw Ballymun slip on its previous showing.


“It is great to see the ‘Tidy Towns’ presence in the form of ‘planter boxes’ along the R108 and closer to the town centre, along with the side window display of SuperValu.

“‘No Butts’ ashtrays were spotted outside SuperValu, Centra and the Travel Lodge Hotel.

“Balbutcher Lane was brought down by the significant levels of dumping at the various gate entrances to the former ‘towers’.

“There was no change to the litter at street level car park beside former Ballymun Town Centre. The residential area of Silloge Gardens had been heavily littered in previous surveys – not so this time around.

“An excellent result for Dun Laoghaire with seven out of the ten sites surveyed getting the top litter grade.

“There were no seriously littered sites.  Both George’s Street Upper and Lower were exceptionally clean and the establishment of a ‘plaza’ area on Lower George’s Street has resulted in a lovely outdoor space with picnic tables, substantial planting, attractive public toilet building and hands-free water feature – a great bonus for the town of Dun Laoghaire.

“While almost half of the 28 sites surveyed were clean, Dublin City suffered from a high number of very heavily littered sites, among them a number of vacant sites.

“Clean sites included St. Stephen’s Green Park, Grafton Street, O’Connell Street, Liffey Boardwalk, Peace Garden (Christchurch) and some of the approach roads.  Many of the heavily littered sites were noted in previous IBAL surveys e.g., Werburgh Street Car Par, Vacant site on Lamb Alley / Dean Swift Square, Car Park at St. Michan’s Street, Loftus Lane, Green Street / Little Britain Street, to name but a few.

“While there was some improvement in North Inner City Dublin, only 5 of the 28 sites surveyed were Clean.

“The biggest individual improvement was noted at Charleville Mall – this time around it was very much deserving of the top litter grade, previously it had been Grade D status.

“North Circular Road had been a seriously littered site for a number of years – this time around it improved, somewhat, to moderately littered status; Commons Street and Sean O’Casey Avenue also improved somewhat; Mountjoy Square Park was not just very well presented and maintained, based on the signage on the railings,  it offers a variety of outdoor activities throughout the week;  within the Ballybough area, there is very clear evidence of work by ‘Ballybough Pride of Place’ – examples of this include the sign indicating that dog fouling bags are available for free at local shops.  There were still too many sites which were stubbornly stuck at seriously / litter blackspot status – some of these require attention by individual owners / occupiers but not all.

“It is disappointing that Tallaght has lost the clean status which it had regained.

“It was an area of extremes – the seven top ranking sites were very well presented and maintained.

“Examples of these included Whitestown Way, Tallaght Village and Sean Walsh Memorial Park at Whitestown Way.

“At the other end of the spectrum there were three sites which were very heavily littered, one of them subject to particularly heavy levels of household dumping – Pedestrian Access to Cheeverstown Road from Kilmartin Drive.  The other heavily littered sites were Mac Uilliam Crescent and adjacent streets and Fortunestown Lane to Fortunestown Way.”

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