Roscommon County Council Offices, Roscommon
Friday 22nd June at 12 noon
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Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,
It's a pleasure to be with you on home soil today to support a critical part of this year's anti-dumping initiative.
One of the great successes of the initiative to date has been its capacity to engage with people and communities.
Ireland is unique in both its physical and social qualities and there is a scandalous irony that, in some of our most beautiful landscapes, there still exist the abhorrent practice of illegal dumping – which I describe as economic and environmental treason.
Last Monday night Prime Time Investigates revealed the deeply disturbing world of environmental criminality.
Like all who watched it I was appalled and I know those cases highlighted are either closed or currently under investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency.
My commitment to enforcement is absolute. I have demonstrated this through increased investment. More resources for the Environmental Protection Agency and the harmonisation of waste enforcement regionally by the 31 local authorities are key measures.
I want to commend the waste enforcement officers across the country and here in the Connacht-Ulster region.
You do a very difficult job in challenging situations and it is important that your efforts are recognised.
You carry out your duties many times in the face of serious threats and intimidation. You are performing the essence of public service and I commend you and your work here today.
It is therefore entirely appropriate that the powers, skill sets and enforcement expertise of all State Agencies are brought to bear in assisting you to confront this criminality.
Multi-agency operations involving the Gardai, Revenue and the Department of Social Protection are shutting down rogue operators and waste enforcement officers are spearheading these operations.
Communities are central to the success of Anti-Dumping Initiatives. Communities that are not prepared to surrender their beaches, their parks, or their countryside to waste criminals.
The new awareness campaign that I am launching today builds on this and challenges those that persist in this appalling crime to take a look at themselves and to make a judgement call on the type of person that they are.
In a world where it appears to be no longer politically correct to raise the issue of personal responsibility, this campaign challenges the dumpers by suggesting that irrespective of the multitude of ways and means of managing our waste, that there will always be those who persist simply because it is in their nature to so do.
An examination of dumping blackspots show acts that are premeditated, covert, rationalised and, in some cases, riddled with false justification.
Some believe that if they leave a small bag of household rubbish with other piles of waste, then somehow these public spaces turn into legitimate dumping sites, that their rubbish will be ignored or cleaned up by a community or tidy towns group or the local authority.
This is why the Anti-Dumping Initiative is targeted, not just at local authorities, but at community and voluntary groups.
By engaging in environmentally responsible actions on a community level, people become more sensitive to the larger environmental issues that affect their local area.
Those who actually interact with their environment develop a stronger sense of environmental community than those who do not; and put simply, they are far less likely to abuse it by mismanaging their waste.
Since I launched the ADI Scheme last year I have allocated €3.3 million to local authorities in every county in the country and over 400 varied anti-dumping projects have been supported including this awareness campaign.
I am certain that this awareness campaign will build on these achievements and contribute to effecting long term change in behaviour and attitudes.
I wish you every success in the task ahead. Well done to you all.