Monday, 26 April 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I wish to speak about litter and the preparation for what we hope will be an outdoor summer. I live in a small rural part of Dublin 15 which has looked a bit like a rubbish tip in recent months as people literally throw their rubbish out of their cars. It is now spreading to some of our public parks and other public spaces across the city and throughout the country. We are heading for a litter emergency during what we are branding as our outdoor summer. In Dublin alone, in the Phoenix Park, at the Royal Canal, in Portobello and in Monkstown, the bins were overflowing this weekend. I thank people from the area and councillors who have shared their photographs. I commend Councillor Colm O'Rourke and Councillor James Geoghegan in Dublin City Council and Councillor Lorraine Hall in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and those who are already engaged in clean-ups.
I also pay tribute to the firefighters in Killarney, in the Mourne Mountains and in other counties who continue to work so hard to put out devastating fires, the sources of which are yet to be confirmed.
Right now, we are not ready for an outdoor summer. People need to remember we are in a biodiversity crisis. Officials in Fingal County Council have advised me that they have never seen anything like the rubbish they have had to deal with. Local authorities and the OPW need to provide extra bins, which need to be emptied more regularly. We need additional bin bags to be left at those spots. The Minister needs to review the resources available for bin-collection staff, park and wildlife rangers and litter wardens, and we should supplement them if necessary. We have asked so much of them recently and that will only increase during the summer. We need proper information and education for people about how to behave responsibly outdoors. The organisation, Leave No Trace Ireland, could help in that regard.
Businesses want to be able to serve people outdoors but many of our casual trading by-laws are out of date. For instance, in Fingal people may only trade at graveyards and at beaches, and people are looking to change that.One needs a licence to trade there but we should review the position. The Minister can issue guidelines in that regard. The latter would be very good in the context of waste management, segregation and designating areas for litter-picking. Things have changed a great deal since 1995, when the Casual Trading Act was implemented. We need an outdoor strategy if we are going to plan for an outdoor summer.