The Limerick Leader - Saturday, April 18, 2009

MEP's slate City Council over handling of litter

By Nick Rabbitts

POLITICIANS from across Europe have reacted with shock at the litter and filth in some of Limerick's estates.
And the European Commission is to launch a probe into Limerick City Council's handling of dumping in the city, it was revealed in Brussels on Thursday.

Commission representatives and MEPs have accused the city council and the government of lying over the extent of the litter problem in the city s regeneration estates after both had previously written saying the problem was under control.

Cathal McCarthy, Weston Gardens, has just returned to Limerick after leading a delegation of residents' representatives to the European Parliament calling for better clean-up measures in the regeneration estates.

European legislation states that all EU members must take necessary measures to ensure waste is recovered or disposed of without endangering human health and harming the environment. But residents' representatives ìn Limerick do not feel this is happening.

It is the second time Mr McCarthy has put together a petition - the first one last year was thrown out by the petitions committee - despite their visit to the city.

The petitions committee said it rejected the petition as it had received a report from the local authority stating the problem was under control.

During his visit Mr McCarthy presented recently-taken photographs of waste and damage in Limerick's regeneration estates, shocking commissioners, committee members and MEPs - and now the commission will open dialogue with the city council.

Speaking in Brussels Mr McCarthy - who was assisted by Tommy Daley and Mark Franklin from Moyross, and former Weston Gardens resident Heather Cunningham - said, "Anti-social behaviour and illegal dumping are rife in these areas as they are being deliberately run down to encourage people to leave. The regeneration process is one of depopulate - demolish - develop."

He added residents from his native Weston Gardens have been told they would have weekly waste collections.
"Limerick City Councils claim there is a waste collector with a small truck that could collect our domestic waste regularly is false. I have continually raised this issue with Limerick City Council and never once have they provided me with the name of such a collector," he told commissioners.
And he added that the fact the commission rejected his last petition "pertains to a school bully being vindicated. The teacher is intervening and acting on the bully's side."

Vice chairman of the committee, Ireland South MEP Kathy Sinnott said "I think this shows the commission has been duped. It's only when we actually see the problem for ourselves we can see we are being lied to."

British MEP Sir Robert Atkins called for a "management order" to be placed on Limerick City Council over the mess.

"The commission have had the wool pulled over their eyes entirely. What I see is an absolute disgrace. When I was environment minister in the UK, if this came to me via a member of parliament, I would put a management order on Limerick City Council and demand they do something about it. This should be fixed period by the authorities," he said.

Romanian MEP Victor Bostinaru added "What we are seeing here is reminiscent of the developing world, yet this is taking place in a first world country. We should look into the source of the information, and ask the question why letters printed with official letterheads are not worth the paper they are printed on."

Ms Sinnott said the litter represents a wider problem. "Obviously this is an impossible situation for people to live with, but this is a weapon of war. The reason this waste is here is that gangs rooted in drugs are using waste as a way of getting rid of people in decent neighbourhoods which then provides them with the community they need to operate.They burn out cars, they vandalise people, but more importantly they attack human beings, intimidate old people, and they murder," she said, making reference to the slain Roy Collins.

Chairperson of the petitions committee Marcin Libicki confirmed that the commission will write to the city council advising them of their role, inviting them to address the commission themselves.

He added the European commission will remain in contact with both the Irish government and Limerick City council over the issue - and will revisit the city in the near future to look for improvements.