County mayor admits giving banned coal to elderly couple

March 15th, 2023 5:05 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Mayor Collins said ‘more people will die of the cold than smoke’. (Photo: Martin Walsh)

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THE county mayor outed himself as the surreptitious supplier of smoky coal for an elderly couple who were struggling with fuel costs.

It was during a discussion of the Western Divisional Committee’s environmental report that the mayor, Cllr Danny Collins (Ind), said he assisted the couple source and buy the coal because the smokeless stuff wasn’t heating their home sufficiently.

‘I know the ban is in,’ said Cllr Collins, ‘but with the smokeless you wouldn’t get burned even if you sat on top of it.’

‘I was able to source coal for them,’ he added, ‘and, thank God, they bought enough to do them for a long time.’

Cllr Collins said he’d been told that thousands of people die of smoke inhalation every year. But he is of the opinion that ‘a lot more will be dying of the cold.’

Never one to miss an opportunity to get a rise out of his colleagues, the committee chairman, Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said: ‘Some might say you will have to consider your position, as mayor, but I’d never say that.’

Ted O’Leary, a senior executive officer with Cork County Council’s environment and emergency services directorate, who was deputising for the director of service, confirmed there is a national ban on smoky coal.

‘It is a public health issue and there are 1,400 annual, early deaths attributed to particulate matter, according to a medical study published in The Lancet,’ he added.

‘There are low smoke alternatives, but it takes a while for people to find the right product,’ said Mr O’Leary, who encouraged people to be compliant.

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