Two thirds of all fines issued by Galway County Council for illegal dumping and littering remain unpaid.
The figures also reveal that on average, a quarter of all illegal dumping fines issued by the local authority are cancelled, although there were huge variances depending on which part of the county the fines were issued.
The shock figures have led to calls for the Council to take a tougher stance on litterers who feel they can get away with blighting the countryside.
A county councillor has called on the Council to ‘name and shame’ illegal dumpers by posting CCTV photographs of culprits online.
Just 38% of the 746 litter fines issued by the Council during 2014 and 2015 were paid.
The rest of the fines issued were either cancelled by the Council (28%) or remain to be paid by the perpetrator (34%).
The data was released to Adhmhaidin, the morning current affairs programme on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta.
Community wardens in some parts of the county were busier issuing litter fines than they were in others.
It showed 42% or 152 of the 355 total litter fines issued across County Galway in 2015 were for illegal dumping in Connemara, while 14% (52) were in Athenry/Oranmore municipal district; 13% (46) were in Ballinasloe; 11% (40) were in Loughrea; and 18% (65) were in Tuam.
There was a large variance in whether fines were cancelled, depending on what part of the county illegal dumpers were fined.
In Ballinasloe, some 15% of all litter fines issued were cancelled by the Council but it was more than twice that percentage (38%) for those who were issued with fines for dumping in Tuam.
The level of cancelled fines was 19% in Athenry/Oranmore, 26% in Connemara, and 20% in Loughrea.
A Council spokesperson explained that one of the reasons more than one in every four litter fines is cancelled is because the culprits are caught by identifying vehicle number plates on CCTV but their addresses do not match.
The Council confirmed that some 133 (37%) fines for illegal dumping remain unpaid by the culprits.
It said that five people were found guilty for non-payment of fines and one person paid the dumping fine one the Council took legal proceeding for non-payment.
A further six individuals are being brought before the courts for non-payment, and they are awaiting a trial date.
Connemara county councillor, Tom Healy (SF) said the local authority should be more proactive in pursuing illegal dumpers and enforcing fines.
“To have 62% of fines unpaid causes serious issues in terms of how much weight the threat of enforcement for littering carries in the county. If persons guilty of illegal dumping feel they will not suffer the consequences of their actions, then communities and the environment will suffer for this. Illegal dumping costs the local authority and the taxpayer and imposes a burden on already overstretched budgets,” he said.
Councillor Healy added: “I can understand that there may be issues associating car registration plates and the guilty individuals where addresses do not match up, but where this is the case, we must up the ante to catch these people in the act. I have argued previously that we employ new portable camera technology to catch these individuals in the act at known dumping blackspots.
“This technology can send photos immediately to Gardaí and local authority staff so that we can try and apprehend the person leaving the scene. Galway County Council should also follow Dublin City Council’s lead and publish all photos of individuals caught on camera on their website. People who engage in illegal dumping have no regard for the wellbeing of their fellow citizens and should be shamed as such.”
Progress stalls on setting up Eating Disorder Community Health Team
Despite an increasing number of young people experiencing eating disorders, a new specialist community team has yet to be set up in Galway well over a year after it was announced.
The delay is mainly due to a difficulty recruiting a consultant psychiatrist to lead the team, this week’s HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting was told.
Councillor John Connolly (FF) queried the progress on the new Eating Disorder Community Health Team within the Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) after the HSE revealed in September 2021 that it would be set up in response to the hike in youths presenting for treatment.
Chief Officer of HSE Community Healthcare West, Breda Crehan-Roche, said interviews had been conducted to recruit a clinical lead, but so far none had been appointed. Six other staff had been appointed and these had been assigned to existing teams within CAMHS while a psychiatrist could come on board to manage the team.
“We have difficulty getting locum cover. Interviews were held. It’s a priority. We are doing a running recruitment process,” she told this month’s meeting.
It took between six and nine months to appoint a person to such a senior post.
“There is a lot of work in specialist intervention in the eating disorders team.”
She admitted that there were no records of how much of an increase there had been in referrals to CAMHS Galway for youths troubled by an eating disorder as all records were on paper rather than on computer.
“I can’t ask clinicians and therapists to pull together manual figures,” she stated. But the indication from staff on the ground was that there had been a downward trend in referrals post-Covid.
There was a move to keeping digital records by the middle of next year.
Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan dies aged 78
Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has passed away at the age of 78.
Born in Kilkenny in 1944, Bishop Drennan studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth from where he was ordained in 1968
As a priest, the then Fr Drennan served as curate in both St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Kilkenny and then in Ballycallan.
From 1975 he taught Sacred Scripture at St. Kieran’s College, returning to Rome in 1980 to become Spiritual Director at the Irish College there for the next five years.
When Fr. Martin again returned home he became a Lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth where he continued to teach until his appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in 1997.
Following the retirement of Bishop James McLoughlin, Bishop Drennan was chosen as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora and was installed on 3rd July 2005 in Galway Cathedral serving to his retirement in 2016.
A brief statement released by the Diocese of Galway this afternoon confirmed his passing and offered their sympathies to Bishop Drennan’s family and all those who mourn his loss.
Funeral arrangements for the late Bishop Drennan will be announced later
Gardaí appeal for help to locate missing man
Gardaí are seeking help from the public in locating a 66-year-old man who has been missing from Clonbur since Thursday.
Michael Harte is described as being 5’ 9” in height, of slim build with short grey hair. When last seen, he was wearing blue jeans, a blue jumper, a tan / khaki padded jacket and tan boots.
He is understood to have access to a black Renault Megane with a 02 C registration.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Clifden Garda Station on 095 2250, the Garda confidential line on 1800 666111 or any Garda station.