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27/10/2021

Longford courts throw out a third of illegal dumping cases

Freedom of Information figures show how two thirds of cases are resulting in prosecutions

Longford court house.

Barely two thirds of illegal dumping prosecutions taken by Longford County Council are ending in successful convictions.

Around 66 per cent of cases brought before Longford District Court since the start of 2018 have culminated in criminal sanctions being handed down.

During the first six months of this year, just three convictions were recorded for illegal fly-tipping across the county.

The figures are contained in files secured by this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act covering the period from January 2018 to June 2021.

They show how the number of summonses served on individuals suspected of illegal dumping in Longford have gradually fallen over the past three and a half years.

In 2018, a total of 24 cases were heard at Longford District Court level, a figure which coincided in an 86 success rate with 21 convictions returned as a result.

Just 12 months later, that figure fell dramatically with only 12 of 21 cases heard being awarded in the local authority's favour.

In 2020, seven out of ten cases ended in successful convictions with only three from a total of eight prosecutions recorded this year following suit.

The figures also show how those cases commanded a legal bill of in excess of €14,000.

The Leader can also reveal the council are spending thousands of euro each and every year in cleaning up after tenants.

From January 2018 to June 2021, just under €26,000 was spent on “clean-ups/waste removal at local authority houses”, the council revealed.

They were statistics Longford County Councillor Turlough 'Pott' McGovern was not overly surprised by.

He explained how environment officials were finding it increasingly difficult to garner enough evidence to bring suspected culprits before the courts.

“Illegal dumping is a problem that's countrywide and the fact is people who are engaging in this type of activity are a lot cleverer than they were in previous years,” he said.

“A lot of the times , there is no receipt or any form of identification that's found which can be used to prosecute these people.”

Cllr McGovern said but for the efforts made by local Tidy Towns groups and other bodies like Granard Area Action Group and Lus Na Greine, the task faced by council bosses would be a “whole lot worse”.

It comes after District Court Judge Seamus Hughes hit out at the apparent upsurge in litter waste issues being encountered by local authority bosses over the past 18 months.

Speaking at a recent sitting of the local District Court, Judge Hughes said illegal dumping had “gone to hell” in Longford after a number of indivuduals were allegedly caught on CCTV discarding household waste in the greater Edgeworthstown area.

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