Majority of Towns and Cities Now Clean, Yet Tourists Arrive to Littered Roads

Tourists landing at Dublin Airport are being greeted by littered approach roads, according to the latest nationwide survey by Irish Business Against Litter. The study, despite showing continuing improvement in the cleanliness of our cities and towns, revealed the environs of our main airport to be a litter blackspot, as was Dublin‘s North Inner City.

76% of the 42 towns and cities surveyed were deemed to be clean, a record percentage. Cavan was judgedIreland’s cleanest town, one of 18 to be rated ‘cleaner than European norms.’ An Taisce inspectors praised it as “a town that clearly takes great pride in its environment.

While the grounds of Dublin Airport were found to be “immaculate”, the roads surrounding it were spoiled by dumping, casual litter and “all manner of rubbish” according to An Taisce. Over 50% of overseas visitors to this country come through the Airport. With Fingal Council admitting to cleaning the roads only once a year, IBAL is calling for adequate cleaning schedules for key routes used by visitors to be made public.

“We’re finding that the main roads by which visitors reach tourist areas are often littered, which undermines the great work being done in the tourist areas themselves,” says Dr Tom Cavanagh, Chairman of IBAL. “The roads around Dublin Airport are just one example. The IBAL League has seen the cleanliness of key destinations such as Cork and Galway improve greatly in recent years, but the routes by which they are accessed let them down. In some cases it’s the immediate approach roads, where the town and county councils are not working together, in others it’s major routes many miles from the town. Here we need more accountability from those charged with cleaning them – that means publishing schedules like we have in Northern Ireland.”

Approach roads around Dublin and Cork were cited as littered, notably the Navan Road which was a litter blackspot, the road to Galway at Palmerstown and the Blarney approach road in Cork, which was heavily littered.   

Registering one of the worst results since the league began 10 years ago, Dublin’s North Inner City again found itself at the foot of the table of 42 towns and cities, and branded a litter blackspot, a label which IBAL says exposes the neglect shown it by the local authority. An Taisce slammed several areas which were heavily littered last year as being “in an even worse state in 2012”.North Strand and Summerhill were examples. The re-energised Spencer Dock was also singled out for criticism: its train station was littered, and the judges cited a nearby area which was being used as a dump.

“Dublin City Council has done a sterling job in improving year-on-year the high profile tourist parts of Dublin city centre,” says Dr Cavanagh. ”Unfortunately, you don’t have to venture far from O’Connell Street to be confronted with constant litter, dog fouling and neglect. These include areas such as the spectacular Docklands development. The business people and residents of these areas deserve better from their authority. Similarly, Cork’s city centre, which is now exceptionally clean, is in stark contrast to other areas, mainly north of the river.”

Tallaght, previously ‘moderately littered’, improved to Clean to Europeans Norms in the latest survey, while Swords and Dun Laoghaire were deemed ‘cleaner than European norms’. This is a great achievement for a large population area like Tallaght, which improved in 2011 from littered to moderately littered, and is now deemed Clean to European norms.”

Elsewhere, the survey shows a vast improvement in the cleanliness of train and bus stations, since IBAL started measuring a decade ago, with Ennis train station alone in being deemed ‘littered’. Likewise, the study reveals schools have improved, with only two of 60 surveyed found to be in a littered state: St McCartans College in Monaghan and Ennis Community School.

“The overall result here is hugely positive, with 43% of our towns and cities cleaner than the European average – something we could not have dared to hope for just a few years back,“ says Dr Cavanagh. “Certain strategically important areas, particularly around Dublin and Cork, need to be tackled to complete the job, as the negative impression they leave risks undoing much of the good work elsewhere around the country.”

As part of the 2012 Anti–Litter League, IBAL is introducing a Business Award to acknowledge a commercial organisation which has made a particular contribution to the cleanliness of its local area. Submissions can be made online at

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