Killarney has once again cleaned up in the Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) report which was just released as it was once again named ‘Cleaner than European Norms’.

However, Killarney was edged out of top spot by Kilkenny and Athlone – but was awarded third in the ranking of 40 towns and cities nationwide.

The first nationwide litter survey by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) since the COVID-19 crisis shows Tralee deemed ‘clean’ in 15th position. There was a dramatic fall in the number of towns and cities deemed to be ‘clean’, to its lowest level since 2007. Kilkenny was again judged best of the surveyed, with ‘seriously littered’ Dublin North Inner City at the foot of the table. The survey showed PPE litter to be widespread and a rise in the prevalence of cans and glass bottles.

‘In such a difficult year for the town, Killarney has maintained its exemplary cleanliness,’ the Taisce report for Killarney stated.

‘All the approach roads got the top litter grade and this high standard was sustained for well over the majority of the remaining sites surveyed. Among many top ranking sites, some deserve special mention – the Jarvey Parking & Environs was spotless throughout and beautifully presented and maintained; Killarney National Park is a wonderful natural resource which has been lovingly tended and very well respected. Main Street was another site which wasn’t just good with regard to litter but a very freshly presented environment.’

“We’re absolutely delighted to be rated third,” Yvonne Quill from Killarney TidyTowns told the Killarney Advertiser.

“It’s a great honour.”

She said that this year has been hard on everyone but they have continued to work hard despite the challenges.

“There are fantastic volunteers there. It’s hard for everyone but I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone especially the Council workers, they have been superb.”

THE NATIONAL PICTURE

IBAL’s Conor Horgan added that nationally “the rise in litter levels this year is across the board”.

“The COVID crisis has seen more dumping, more outdoor socialising, especially drinking, and PPE litter, but less cleaning by local authorities and less activity by volunteers like TidyTowns – a perfect storm, in many ways, which has brought us to the worst position we’ve been in in over 10 years.”

In the fight against COVID-19, local authorities have curtailed cleaning schedules and diverted resources to other areas. At the same time, households have been generating more litter during lockdown and there has been a visible increase in drinking outdoors as pubs are closed, a fact borne out by the rise in bottles and cans found by the An Taisce inspectors, Galway City being one example. However, there was a reduction in cigarette butts, perhaps also a reflection of pubs and offices being closed. Half of all recycle facilities surveyed were heavily littered, another likely consequence of the COVID crisis, he explained.

PPE litter was prevalent across the country, with masks five times as common as gloves.

“Understandably, people are reluctant to pick up these items for fear of contracting COVID, so they tend to stay on the ground. We need to see a rapid rise in the use of reusable masks,” he said.