Bin the rubbish talk

Comment & Opinion

BLAME GAME The time for excuses for not providing public bins is past.

CHIEF Medical Officer Tony Holohan may be the nation’s hero in so many ways, but he can still ruffle feathers. His recent tweet about how ‘absolutely shocked’ he was at scenes he witnessed on Dublin streets on the sunny Saturday evening of May 29 caused quite an incensed debate.
Of course, we know here in Co Mayo that you don’t need to travel to Dublin to witness large crowds of young people gathering outdoors, particularly when the sun is shining.
Where else are they to go? Is it not the message that has been drilled in to them since the pandemic struck over a year ago?  
Of course, here on the edge of the Wild Atlantic Way it will not only be young people who converge on the outdoors as the tourism season fast approaches. We have all seen an influx of campervans already and, of course, they are most welcome but, surely, it is past time that the proper facilities – and not just bins – were put in place for these invaluable visitors?
Certainly, Fianna Fáil councillor Paul McNamara was absolutely correct to hold officials to account about the problems with rubbish and overflowing bins arising from gatherings near Achill’s beaches over the same weekend.
Speaking at last week’s meeting of the Westport-Belmullet Municipal District, he said: “I flagged this three months ago, we knew it was going to happen. We knew once restrictions eased we would have an influx of visitors to these areas. We are not ready. It is ridiculous that there hasn’t been a plan in place to cater for what’s ahead of us for the next eight to ten weeks.”
Defending their plans to cater for the seasonal influx of visitors in the context of more outdoor activity, Pádraig Walsh, Head of the Municipal District,  said there was a surprisingly long lead-in time to acquire a supply of bins.  
This is what he said: “There is an issue with bins, unfortunately, in that there is a very sur- prising and lengthly lead-in time for the supply of bins. There is a four month lead-in time from all our normal suppliers and we are working hard to source alternatives. I don’t know if this is an issue post Brexit but I know here are bottle necks in all sorts of supply chains at the moment and unfortunately bins is one of them.”
But didn’t we all know that Brexit was coming? After all, the negotiations stalled often enough.
McNamara’s answer was on the button: “I never heard as much of codswallop in all my life. The bins on these beaches are concrete pipes stood up with a black plastic bag in them. If we are waiting four months for a concrete pipe and put a black bag into them we have a serious problem.”
Enter stage left, Ms Catherine McConnell, the Director of Services for the district, who argued that there had been a plan put in place during April to instal 58 extra bins in the municipal district but sourcing them had proven to be a problem.  
“I don’t think any member will like us to see concrete pipes turned upside down with black bags in them. That is just not litter management,” she said.
Well, wouldn’t they do as an interim measure? Isn’t any kind of receptacle better than the sight of rubbish – beer cans, bottles, cigarette packets, chip bags – strewn along our streets and pathways, byways and boreens?
It is well past time for council officials to stop resorting to their characteristic defensive mode and engage constructively and positively with our public representatives to resolve issues.