According to the final litter survey of 2018 by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL ), Castlebar is now ‘Cleaner than European Norms’ and in 12th spot in the ranking of 40 town and cities – a jump of eight places over the previous survey.
While almost all of Ireland’s main towns are clean, pockets of our cities continue to be littered and are not improving. An Taisce, who carry out the surveys on behalf of IBAL, commented in its Castlebar report: "With 70 per cent of sites surveyed getting the top litter grade, Castlebar has again scored very well and come a long way from a few years ago in the IBAL litter league. There were no seriously littered sites. Some examples of top ranking sites included Market Square, Market Street, County Council Car Park and the residential area of Maryland – these sites were not just good with regard to litter but also overall presentation and maintenance."
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton said: "Combating litter is part of a much wider challenge – how we use our resources effectively and adapt to recognise environmental damage more generally.
"Litter is a very tangible, visible example of the kind of damage that is being done. It is vital that communities, businesses and local authorities in towns all across Ireland, work together to manage waste properly and reduce litter. I hope the recognition these awards provide spur others on to come together to make changes in their local areas.”
Just under 90 per cent of towns surveyed were deemed clean. Disadvantaged urban areas occupied the bottom five places in the rankings. Conor Horgan from IBAL stated: "Three years ago we deliberately shone a spotlight on specific city areas in the hope that the attention would spur councils and communities into action. It is fair to say we have seen no noticeable improvement in any of these areas - nor have we seen much by way of substantial measures to them turn around.
"The historic development of large areas of social housing has shaped a "them and us" society and the gap is widening. Litter is a symptom of a greater malaise and keeping these areas as clean and well presented as the rest of a city would over time have significant benefits. We need local authorities to take the lead.”