Successive Governments have failed to seriously tackle the Issue of Illegal Dumping – Doherty
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has sharply criticised what he’s described as the ‘fragmented’ nature of the state’s regulatory system and sanctions regime governing waste management activities here for having resulted in widespread illegal dumping by rogue private operators.
The Donegal TD was commenting in the wake of Monday night’s RTÉ Investigates programme which uncovered evidence of long-term illegal dumping at a facility in the county.
Teachta Doherty said:
“The contents of RTÉ’s Investigates programme which aired this week into illegal dumping, including at a facility operating under a waste permit from Donegal County Council, made for harrowing viewing to say the least.
“And while this news will come as no shock to a number of local residents living near these sites and who in the past have raised concerns over what they have long viewed to be a major issue, the extent of the problem of waste being dumped illegally and the scenes broadcast on our television screens on Monday night were truly shocking.
“The programme however simply reinforced what we in Sinn Féin and others have been saying for years when we’ve voiced our criticism of the fragmented nature of the state’s waste management regulatory framework whereby four different government agencies share responsibility for inspection and enforcement.
“The complexity of the legislation in place here makes enforcement in this area very slow and tedious, something which is further compounded by a weak sanctions regime.
“Similarly, the chronic underfunding of local authorities over the years by successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Governments has created the perfect conditions for certain waste operators to act with impunity by flagrantly breaching the law.
“And while both parties have overseen what has often been a rash and ill-judged privatization of waste collection services, this has led to further fragmentation of an already weak and poorly resourced regulatory system.
“There are of course many reputable waste services firms operating here however, the scale of the illegal dumping which was shown last night clearly indicates that this is now a wide spread problem which is not only damaging to our environment, including our soils and waterways, but it is also having a serious impact on our tourism industry.
“We now have a situation where the taxpayer will be left to pick up the bill for cleaning up these sites and undoing the damage caused by certain rogue private waste operators.
“And to add insult to injury we also have the added threat of possible fines being imposed from Europe due to the actions of a few bad actors handling our waste collection services.
“This is yet another example of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael having failed to govern in the interest of ordinary people, and instead they have decided to place responsibility for important public services such as waste collection into private hands whom are simply interested in making a quick buck.
“The Minister must now make a statement in the Dáil in response to the programme’s findings aired this week and set aside Dáil time to debate this serious issue.
“Clearly, both the inspection and sanctions regime need to be strengthened and it’s now crucial that our local authorities are given the adequate resources to deal effectively with this problem which is now widespread across the industry.”