February 14: Naming and shaming those who litter

This newspaper has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Team Limerick Clean-up initiative, which will see thousands of civic-minded people making a difference to the appearance of their localities by joining together to make sure the surroundings look spick and span on Good Friday.

This newspaper has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Team Limerick Clean-up initiative, which will see thousands of civic-minded people making a difference to the appearance of their localities by joining together to make sure the surroundings look spick and span on Good Friday.

Such positive ventures deserve widespread support, because it seems that for every one person who is conscious of the importance of Limerick looking its best, there is another who doesn’t care.

We see it on our streets every day – casual, depressing littering. A can of soft drink or an empty cup of coffee tossed onto the pavement. Chewing gum spat out. Fast food packaging dumped anywhere and everywhere.

Sometimes, thanks to the vigilance of council officials, papers like ours get to name and shame the guilty. But does the punishment fit the crime?

A city centre business owner, with a premises located close to the railway station that brings many visitors to Limerick, dumps a vast quantity of commercial rubbish onto the pavement outside his foodstore. He has no bin service in place, so he appears to think that such behaviour is acceptable.

Rahmatullah Shirullah, proprietor of the Asian and Arabic Foodstore on Parnell Street, is given an on-the-spot fine of €150. He appeals and has it reduced to €75 by the local authority. Still he doesn’t pay the reduced amount and he’s taken to court. The fine this time is €250.

Mr Shirullah is, of course, just one of many who flout the litter laws. Only a tiny percentage end up, like him, being prosecuted in court.

Thanks to the efforts of many, Limerick has made good progress in cleaning up – but we’re a long way from winning gold medals. Team Limerick Clean-up will, we hope, instil a sense of community pride in many youngsters and prevent them from becoming the litter louts of the future.

We fervently hope that more of those who despoil our city and county will find themselves in court. Our reporters will be there to name and shame them in their local newspaper.