FORMER Mayor of Limerick Cllr John Gilligan has called for a 10% tax to be levied on packets of gum to pay for the mess it creates when left on the streets.
The Independent councillor submitted a notice of motion to this week’s metropolitan district meeting calling on the council to request the government put the levy in place.
He said: “We are spending a fortune putting the highest grade material on the streets, which after a while are totally ineffective. When I last proposed this [in 2008], I got a long letter back from a chewing gum provider. They put an advert on television which had no impact whatsoever. It is not right that Limerick taxpayers should pay for this [cleaning].”
Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan says it is incumbent on all members if they see gum being thrown, to challenge those responsible.
”It is unbelievable anyone thinks they can just throw gum on the ground,” he said.
His party colleague Séighin Ó Ceallaigh joked that Limerick could claim it’s streets have a “modern polka dot design” as part of its bid for European Capital of Culture in 2020.
But on a more serious note, he said: “I feel it is better to clean-up. When you walk down a street, you find footpaths destroyed by gum.”
He said he backs the idea of taxing chewing gum – perhaps at a higher level than the 10% Cllr Gilligan suggested.
“But I am not confident all the proceeds would come back to the council,” he added.
Cllr Marian Hurley, Fine Gael, does not believe taxing gum is the way forward.
She said: “I think it is all about education. Putting up the cost of cigarettes is not going to deter people from smoking, for example. Retailers should take the initiative”.
Her party colleague, Cllr Daniel Butler, feels questions should be asked of retailers as to whether it may be possible to remove the sale of gum in some shops.
Cllr Gilligan’s original motion was referred to the environmental committee for further discussion.