Longford's judiciary accused of being 'too lenient' in handing down illegal dumping sentences

Fury as figures show over 20 cases reported to Longford County Council officials each week

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Illegal dumping

There are calls this week for judges to take a tougher stance with people who come before the courts on illegal dumping charges

Judges are being “too lenient”in handing down sentences to people who come before Longford courts accused of illegal dumping, it's been claimed.

The criticism was meted firmly in the direction of senior members of the judiciary by local Cllr Gerry Warnock after latest figures showing the extent of illegal fly-tipping countywide were revealed.

The statistics, obtained by the Leader under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) found council staff are fielding more than 1,000 complaints of litter pollution each year.

That equates to an average of around 21 allegations each and every week.

Independent Cllr Gerry Warnock described the figures as “astounding”, saying the relatively benign sentences issued to convicted defendants were only exacerbating the problem.

“The figures are absolutely astounding,” he said, when contacted by the Leader for comment.

“In fairness to the Environment Section of Longford County Council and Tidy Towns groups, an awful lot of voluntary hours are going in to try and counter this issue.”

“When you see the likes of these figures coming out it's absolutely soul destroying, it really is.”

In a bid to temper the damage caused to the local environment, Longford County Council are spending more than €1m each year in litter management and street sweeping costs.

Cllr Warnock, who has spoken out on the matter on several occasions in the past, said there was no place in society for those found guilty of illegal dumping.

And the non party local representative was left in no doubt as to why more and more cases of indiscriminate dumping were being reported.

“There needs to be a zero tolerance approach to this,” he maintained.

“The issue, as far as I see it, is not one of enforcement, the issue is when matters like this come before a judge.

“The judiciary, in my opinion, have been too lenient over the last number of years and whenever the slightest bit of litigation is given at all, (cases) are found against the Council.”

Cllr Warnock said the time had come for senior members of the judiciary to “sit up and take notice” over the saga.

“When you think of all the money that is being spent to counter this type of activity and instead being used to enhance things like landscaping, nature and habitat it's very disappointing.

“It (illegal dumping) will only ever be resolved if there is a zero tolerance approach irrespective of a person's ability to pay,” he added.

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