High Street in Kilkenny
Kilkenny has once again come out on top in the latest Irish Businesses Against Litter (IBAL) survey.
It's the first nationwide litter survey by business group IBAL since the Covid-19 crisis, and it shows a dramatic fall in the number of towns and cities deemed to be ‘clean’, to its lowest level since 2007. Cities fared particularly badly, with Dublin, Galway and Limerick city centres all losing their clean status. Kilkenny was again judged best of the 40 towns and cities.
An Taisce, who carried out the survey, deemed 23 towns to be ‘clean’, a fall of over 20% on last year. The number of towns reaching the highest cleanliness level – 'Cleaner than European Norms' – dropped by a quarter to 9, with Kilkenny edging out Athlone, Killarney and Portlaoise at the top of the rankings.
“Again Kilkenny comes up shining! The series of interconnecting laneways between the streets and medieval area were excellent – this is often not the case in other towns / cities throughout the country," noted An Taisce.
Mayor of Kilkenny John Coonan has hailed the results as an endorsement of everything Kilkenny is doing right.
"It is a truly fantastic achievement to win it two years in a row," he said.
"It's down in no small way to the civic pride and spirit we have here, and the groups - KKB do great work - as well as the outstanding leadership and staff of the local authority, our outdoor staff. As Mayor, I want to express my sincere thanks to one and all."
Chairman of Keep Kilkenny Beautiful Peter Bluett has also welcomed the news.
"KKB are very proud of the success of the work of our volunteers undertaken this year in difficult circumstances and also the excellent work being done in conjunction with Kilkenny county council and other residents associations and voluntary groups over the last number of months," said Mr Bluett.
Local TD John Paul Phelan has paid tribute to everyone involved in keeping Kilkenny City and the county as a whole spotlessly clean yet again.
“Retaining our status as the cleanest of 40 towns and cities nationwide doesn’t just happen by accident. It takes a phenomenal, continuous team effort and all involved should be commended on their tireless work," said Deputy Phelan.
“Covid has hit the tourism and hospitality sectors exceptionally hard and every single town and village needs to up its game into the future and work on its attractiveness and appeal.
"We’re blessed to have amazing natural and built heritage in Kilkenny and award wins such as this make our city and county even more attractive not just as a holiday destination but as a fantastic place to live, to work and raise a family. It shows we take pride in our city and county and care for our environment.
“Exceptional credit has to go to Colette Byrne and her team at Kilkenny County Council; to the Keep Kilkenny Beautiful volunteers, the many Tidy Towns groups, residents associations, community groups and particularly our schools who instil in our young people a respect for our environment and a high value on a clean green world. Today is a very good news day for Kilkenny at a time when we all need a bit of good news,” Deputy Phelan said.
The IBAL survey noted a number of changes this year. 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. 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 re-usable masks,” says Conor Horgan of IBAL.
Kilkenny County Council’s environment section provides education and awareness to communities in relation to all environmental matters. The Council continues to have a zero-tolerance approach to illegal dumping in the interest of public health and to keep our City and County clean. Members of the public are encouraged to play their part by reporting illegal dumping activity and they can do so by calling 1800-200156.