Friday 12 May, 2017
Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls
Myself and Mayor Cllr Tony Ward would like to welcome the Gum Litter Taskforce representatives and our industry partners to our home town to launch the 2017 ‘Bin your gum when you’re done’ campaign.
The Gum Litter Taskforce or GLT is an excellent example of an industry working with the State demonstrating real corporate social responsibility.
It’s fitting that we’re having this launch today in Roscommon as we recently ranked in second place nationwide in the Irish Business Against Litter Survey. We’re hoping to move up one in the next result and the GLT campaign I’m sure will go some way towards helping us to achieve that here in Roscommon.
Initiatives like this campaign are about continuing to take pride in our communities and continuing to take personal responsibility for their upkeep.
The GLT programme teaches young people about the environmental damage and social cost of littering when items such as chewing gum are thrown away without any care or thought.
Littered gum is a topic that most students will have experience of. Awareness of the damage caused by gum litter ties in well with the work those pupils from all over the country do through the Green Schools programme – a programme I am pleased to fund through my Department. They show the importance of engaging in debates and they demonstrate how all of use, young and old, parents and teachers, can play an active role as responsible citizens in concrete actions to protect the environment and the communities in which we live.
As you know, litter of all kinds pollutes our environment and blights our communities. It also impacts on the economy, costing local councils hundreds of thousands of euro every year, to keep each county clean and free of litter, including chewing gum litter. County pride can often be demonstrated through sports and culture but County and community pride can equally be shown through our treatment of our local area. Respect is the key element.
Every year my Department commissions a survey of litter levels nationally and I will shortly publish the latest National Litter Pollution report on www.litter.ie . These Reports, have demonstrated year on year that Ireland has steadily improved its environment with respect to litter but complacency is not an option as a small increase was recorded last year in levels nationwide on the previous year. Within the resources I have I am supporting community groups and local authorities with funding that will have tangible impact in our communities. Recently, I provided increased funding for the 2017 National Spring Clean event run by An Taisce which I launched here in Roscommon as well. I also provided funding of €650,000 for a new local authority anti-illegal dumping initiative – I will be announcing shortly a second allocation due to high demand.
I will also be announcing in the coming weeks increased funding for Anti-Litter and Anti-Graffiti Awareness Grants.
However money cannot solve this problem on its own. It takes a behavioural change across the board. Littering is environmental sabotage so I am always delighted to meet so many people who clearly care deeply about our environment at a young age. Your behaviour and leadership will influence others. I wish you all well with this valuable campaign and I will be spreading the message ‘bin your gum when you’re done’ at every opportunity.
Go raibh mile maith agaibh.