Athlone has been found to be ‘Clean to European norms’, according to the latest survey from Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL ), with over half the sites achieving the top litter grade.
However it is a drop from the town’s previous ranking in August as ‘Cleaner than European norms’, as it fell from 12th to 27th place in the most recent rankings announced this week.
The judges found the “worst site by far” was Arcadia Retail Park, whose service area was criticised for “persistent litter”.
However there was praise for Griffith Street and the IDA Business and Technology Park. Griffith Street had well presented signage, individual properties, and flower boxes, while the IDA park was found to be “an excellent site” which was clear of litter and very well maintained with cycle path, shrubbery, and seating.
Other sites that impressed the judges and achieved an ‘A’ grade were Sraid Bhiog Mhuire, Creggan Court Hotel and its environs, The Strand, the N52-M6 Athlone to Tullamore Link Road, and the approach to exit 8 from Dublin approach on the M6.
At the other end of the scale, both The Bawn and Payne’s Lane were found to be heavily littered and “run-down”.
The final litter survey for 2014 showed that a record 85 per cent of the 40 towns and cities surveyed were ‘Clean to European norms’ last year, with Kilkenny taking the top spot.
Elsewhere in the Midands, Longford and Tullamore were in third and fifth places respectively, having being declared ‘Cleaner than European norms’. Roscommon also performed well, in eighth position overall. Mullingar was in the same category as Athlone, though came in a higher spot in 18th place overall.
Farranree in Cork was the only area surveyed to be deemed a litter blackspot in the IBAL rankings.
IBAL spokesperson Conor Horgan said the “excellent results... bear out the fact that Ireland is broadly a very clean country”.
“It is time we binned the stereotype that we are inherently a dirty or untidy nation, and project our cleanliness as a real tourism asset. With Fáilte Ireland looking to increase our tourist numbers in 2015 by almost 40,000 each month, we should set our sights on being among the cleanest countries to visit.”