TheLiberty is a local paper for Dublin's south inner city

February 2001

Charges dumped on Dublin residents

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By Aisling Casey
THE long-running dispute over the introduction of refuse charges by Dublin Corporation came to a head when council members voted to initiate the new scheme.
The controversial vote held on January 12th was carried 25 to 22 in favour of the charges. It came after the Minister for the Environment, Mr Dempsey, placed a deadline on the council to adopt the Budget estimates for 2001.

At the Dublin estimates meeting in December, Dublin City Council refused to approve the annual financial estimate because of refuse collection charges contained within it. However, after pressure from the Government, which almost led to the abolition of the council, Dublin City Council called an emergency meeting to end the dispute.

The council voted to introduce annual domestic refuse charges of £95 in the city, with immediate effect. Households with low waste will pay a reduced charge of £65. These charges will include the implementation of new recycling initiatives.

Charges will be waived for householders whose only income is a Department of Social Welfare allowance or pension and for people whose incomes are outside the tax net. In the case of hardship, full or partial exemptions may be granted at the discretion of City Manager, Mr John Fitzgerald.

Mr Fitzgerald said that the charges were necessary and were not simply about providing wheelie-bins, but were part of the council's targets to recycle 60 per cent of its waste. At present, recycling rates in the city stand at 10 per cent with the remaining waste disposed at landfill sites.

There are two new recycling facilities in the Liberties/Coombe area. These centres, situated on Marrowbone Lane and Sweeney's Terrace, are part of Dublin Corporation's new recycling initiatives.

At the monthly meeting of the South Central Area Committee, Mr Matt Twomey, Assistant City Manager said, "About 40,000 bins have been provided to residents and it's settling down very well. All the difficulties that we've had to date are being met and dealt with at operation level." Mr. Twomey admitted that there was apprehension amongst people living in terraced houses, flats and single houses but assured the committee that their fears would be addressed.

Cllr Michael Mulcahy has called for a widespread public information campaign to explain to the public the new refuse charges that are being implemented in the city.

"Unfortunately, many people are not aware that refuse charges have been brought in by the Corporation as part of the Waste Management Strategy, which are largely based on recycling," he said. "Therefore, a comprehensive publicity campaign is needed to highlight the new charges and explain to the people how refuse will now be collected and disposed of."

Cllr Ciaran Cuffe emphasised the importance of recycling. He said: "We need to reduce the waste we are creating," adding that "the three R's are very important; reduction, re-use and recycle."

In response to the city's waste charge debacle, Labour TD Dr Mary Upton has called for a directly-elected Lord Mayor for Dublin to give the capital's citizens a real democratic voice.

"The city manager wields massive executive power, yet he is accountable to no-one for many of his functions. The manager or those councillors that voted for service charges had no mandate to make their decision. The electorate must be allowed decide the future vision of their city and on the decisions on how local government is paid for."

There will be four collections of a pilot refuse scheme, with the first being held on February 23rd at Marrowbone Lane. Old medicines and household bulbs will be among the waste that will be collected by this new mobile unit. The unit will also be equipped to deal with household waste.