Galway TD Denis Naughten has called for laws to be strengthened to allow vehicles used in illegal dumping to be impounded.
Speaking in the Dáil, Denis Naughten said illegal dumping has become an even greater problem during lockdown, at a time when people are heavily reliant on public spaces to get out of the house.
“We are all relying on public areas, walks and trails during the lockdown, yet thoughtless people are littering with everything from dog-fouling to cigarette butts and coffee cups.
“Then we have downright criminal behaviour where individuals are dumping everything from bags to van loads of rubbish in these scenic locations.”
The Independent TD said that some local authorities have reported up to a 30% increase in illegal dumping since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I fully accept there is no single solution to this particular problem, and it requires improved facilities, particularly for bulky goods.”
“If, for example, a couch or a mattress is dumped at a location, it attracts other illegal dumping and soon becomes a rat-infested open landfill site.”
“We must also improve enforcement of the laws because unless we hit those who carry out this illegal activity where it hurts – in their pockets – we will never effectively address this growing problem.”
“We must secure convictions and make clear examples of those involved in this crime, which is both environmental and economic and has social impacts on the communities concerned.”
Using CCTV footage as a method to prevent illegal dumping, and convict offenders, has been a hot button topic for some time now.
In Galway’s council’s it has been repeatedly highlighted that privacy and GDPR issues prevent the use of footage from security cameras in the prosecution of illegal dumpers.
Last week the Local Government (Use of CCTV in Prosecution of Offences) Bill was introduced at the Seanad, with the express goal of allowing councils to use their own cctv footage in the prosecution of offences.
Minister of State Peter Burke said that the government does not oppose this Bill, but that the government is considering parallel measures.
Senator Pauline O’Reilly, formerly of Galway City Council, said in the Seanad that on top of being a local amenity and appearance problem, illegal dumping is also an environmental issue.
“People are driving in and dumping fridges and all kinds of things or even throwing waste food outside people’s houses, but it also impacts on the animals and wildlife in those areas.”
“This situation does not allow us to achieve what we need to achieve to retain our natural environment and make sure the animals that are in our care, on either public or private land, are well cared for.”