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LETTER: Is a clean-up a waste of time?

September 2nd, 2018 8:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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SIR – I recently returned from a trip to scenic Armagh and Down to make one of my frequent visits to equally scenic Bantry.  

I do observe that we have one thing that they do not, that is; a litter problem (admittedly they also have better healthcare, no potholes, and they can actually spell their Gaelic signposts, but there are other matters).  This is keenly observed in the headlines of the Star of Saturday, August 18th.

To be fair, I do not think Bantry is worse than any other town in West Cork, so I wonder why it gets this headline attention, but that is not relevant. My questions are; who benefits and who should pay? 

I live in a rural area of Co Cork which is prone to significant amounts of litter being thrown from cars. 

 I collect this on my own stretch of road as often as I can and dispose of it at my own cost.  

Considering that most of this waste comes from food outlets I am tempted to return the bags of rubbish to them but perhaps I would not be greeted amicably if I did.  

My neighbour was driven to getting a trailer to clear the road near his house of mattresses, sofas, televisions etc not to mention scores of bags of nappies and household rubbish.  

Disposing of a trailer-load of other peoples’ waste is not cheap when you take it to the recycling centre. 

But I suppose there is no cost to the local authority there and that is good for their budget.

Accepting that it is nigh impossible to catch the litter lout without CCTV on every tree and building in the country, is there any way of dealing with it other than the victim, or willing volunteers of the local tidy towns’ committee doing the County Council’s work for them?

Who benefits from this waste? Is there anyone profiting from the waste? Whose tills are ringing when all this packaging is being sold?  Who is bringing the fast food wrappers, the cans, the coffee cups, the sweet wrappers and cigarette butts to our towns and roads in the first place?

A more dramatic, or satisfying response may be simply to dump the offending articles on the shop floor of any merchant who purveys such wares. This could be done at a fixed time each morning for the entertainment of all and sundry. Similar to the medieval punishments for merchants of rotten fish or stale bread.  It could be quite a spectacle for tourists and for those who spend their time trying to keep the place clean.

Of course this would only work if those minded to solve such problems had no conflict of interest, ie were not profiting from this waste trade in the first place.

I fear that it will just be left to democracy resulting in the usual solution of all talk and no action, or a committee which will agree to well; agree.

However if anyone feels like organising a public day of returning the rubbish to the profiteer, please advertise it in this paper. I will gladly supply rotten fish and stale bread, if needed.

Is mise le dúthrach duit agus araille.

Mícheál Ó Donnchadha,

Templemartin.

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