It's a knockout! Boxer Paddy Barnes gives backing to Belfast Telegraph litter campaign
Olympic boxer Paddy Barnes has returned to one of his favourite childhood haunts – the Waterworks Park in north Belfast – to declare war on litter.
The Belfast sportsman took time out from a bruising training schedule to give the scenic park the once-over as he backed our Big Spring Clean campaign.
He explained how he used to spend a lot of his free time hanging out near the Lower Lake and his mum still lives round the corner. And from time to time he still goes for the odd run along the path skirting the two lakes.
The north Belfast boxer also paid tribute to Belfast City Council for the way in which it has routed the litter louts in recent years.
"It think it's disgusting when people throw their litter down. They should be embarrassed," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"It brings the rats around too, so it's not healthy. The litter isn't as bad as it used to be though. People are getting fines and things now, which I think is a good thing.
"You don't see as much litter, certainly not in north Belfast."
But he insists Northern Ireland is by no means the worst offender, judging by his travels around the world. "I've been all round the world and it's exactly the same everywhere," he says.
"Everywhere I've been – it's like they have the same set of rules. You just don't do it – you don't throw down litter.
"I think we need to keep Northern Ireland clean so we don't give a bad impression.
"We're not dirty beasts – we need to take pride in our area." The Belfast Telegraph has joined forces with Tidy Northern Ireland and DoE Rethink Waste in a bid to spur tens of thousands of people across Northern Ireland to tackle the litter hotspots in their areas. This spring we have set ourselves the challenging target of persuading 50,000 people to get involved in the Big Spring Clean by joining litter picks across the country in April.
Earlier this week, we won the support of international football legend Gerry Armstrong and Four Weddings and a Funeral star Simon Callow, who studied at Queen's in the 1960s.
Our war on litter has also been backed by Zoe Salmon, Eamonn Holmes, David Healy, Lynda Bryans, Dick Strawbridge, Rachel Tucker, David Bellamy, Katie Larmour and Anthony Millar.
Last year the Big Spring Clean mobilised an incredible 26,000 volunteers who lifted 163 tonnes of litter – equivalent to 23 double decker buses. This year, we've set ourselves an even tougher target – getting 50,000 people to get involved in cleaning up litter hotspots in our towns and countryside.
Tidy NI CEO Ian Humphreys said: "We are calling on everyone to join The Big Spring Clean and carry out a clean-up in April. Just register your interest at www.bigspringcleanni.org and receive your free clean-up kit."