Michael Ring TD, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, this week announced the cancellation of the Tidy Towns competition for 2020 in the interests of public health and safety.
In a statement this week, Minister Ring said: "For over 60 years the Tidy Towns competition has captured the imagination of communities the length and breadth of the country. Generation after generation of local volunteers have given their time generously to make the Tidy Towns competition the success it is today.
"The whole ethos of the competition is that people come together within the community and work collaboratively to make their areas attractive and welcoming. It involves people of all ages working together outdoors in groups to enhance the environment in which they work and live.
"I know that many Tidy Towns Committees have been wondering if the competition will proceed this year and I believe it is important to provide certainty to all of the Committees around the country at this stage.
"For me, the health and welfare of the volunteers on the Tidy Towns Committees is paramount. Given the current restrictions around public gatherings, travel, and adherence to social distancing, it would not be appropriate to ask voluntary groups to work on Tidy Towns projects in their communities at this time. I have therefore decided that the Tidy Towns competition will not go ahead this year.
"My Department will look at initiatives, including through the use of social media, to help sustain and maintain the spirit and ethos of Tidy Towns during these difficult times. Hopefully, if restrictions are eased, there may be an opportunity for the TidyTowns Committees to undertake some work when it is safe to do so and in a way that is manageable later in the year. But I want to stress, this will not form part of any competition for 2020.
"In the meantime, I would urge all Tidy Towns Committees to follow the advice of the HSE – stay at home, don’t travel except for essential purposes, and practice social distancing.
"My Department will be contacting each group directly by letter advising them of the situation and the rationale for the decision. Finally, I want to thank the main competition sponsors, SuperValu, for their understanding of the situation we find ourselves in at this time. I know that they, too, will look forward to being able to celebrate the return of the competition in 2021."