Secas: Council must weed out noxious plant posing public health risk

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

Cllr Elena Secas at Elm Vale, Riverbank, Annacotty, where she says the noxious plant hogweed is flourishing
COUNCILLOR Elena Secas has called on Limerick City and County Council to up its efforts to contain the invasive species hogweed along the banks of the Shannon at Castleconnell and in Annacotty as “a matter of urgent public safety”.

COUNCILLOR Elena Secas has called on Limerick City and County Council to up its efforts to contain the invasive species hogweed along the banks of the Shannon at Castleconnell and in Annacotty as “a matter of urgent public safety”.

While it’s not quite Day of the Triffids, the noxious sap carried by the plant has been known to cause blindness if it comes into contact with the eyes. But the more common problem is a nasty skin condition and Cllr Secas wants the council to take action.

The Labour councillor said that according to Invasive Species Ireland, the stems, edges and undersides of the hogweed leaves bear small hairs containing a phototoxic sap.

“The slightest contact with human skin can cause painful blistering and severe skin irritation when exposed to sunlight. Blistering can take 24 to 48 hours to appear after exposure, and dense pigmentation is visible after three to five days. The reaction can recur for six years or more and protective clothing must be worn,” she said.

And greater effort must be made “to combat the spread of hogweed on the bank of the river Shannon in Castleconnell as a matter of urgent public health and safety”.

“The plant has spread in other areas and at the moment it is really blooming in Elm Vale, Riverbank, Annacotty, just next to the green area and in the immediate vicinity of some houses where many children are at play

“If this is not gotten under control it will just get worse as each mature plant can produce 50,000 seeds, so urgent action at council level needs to be taken,” said Cllr Secas.

But she has been disappointed with the official response to date.

Cllr Secas explained that having raised this issue with the council last June she was advised to contact Nature Conservation, which she did but no progress had been made to date.

“The Castleconnell CE Scheme and Castleconnell Fisheries Association are working really hard spraying the hogweed on the River Shannon in Castleconnell, but their resources are very limited and more resources are needed to keep the situation under control. Meanwhile, this dangerous plant has spread into Annacotty and poses a growing threat to public health in the area, so it’s essential that the local authority comes on board to help keep this serious hogweed situation under control”.

“I urge the council to play their part and take immediate measures to combat this weed before it spreads any further and also develop a long term effective weed control action plan’, she said.