Belfast Telegraph

Rural litter heroes fill 100 bags with roadside rubbish

Volunteers muck in to tidy townlands

By Linda Stewart

Seventy volunteers banded together at the weekend to clear up roadside litter blighting their townlands around Tirkane, Maghera.

The area, home to one of Ireland’s best preserved ancient sweat houses, has suffered from a growing litter problem on roads, and Claire Doherty from An Carn decided that she needed to take action.

“Each group or clan who signed up to take part agreed to clean their own townland, and by noon on Saturday the list of areas cleaned was impressive — Corlacky; Tirhugh; Halfgayne; Gortinure; Slaughtneil; Tirkane; Carrowmenagh; Tirnoney; Grillagh; Moneysharvin; Fallagloon; Fallalea; Ballyknock, Ranaghan and Maghera,” she said.

“The group of 70 volunteers collected around 100 bags of rubbish and some unusual finds included a TV, a traffic cone, a car bonnet and fuel drums.”

Nicola Murray from Tidy Northern Ireland said: “Volunteers of all ages rolled up their sleeves and got involved, with many vowing to keep up the good work. They are litter heroes.”

It’s all about showing pride in your area... so get stuck in there

The organisers of the Big Spring Clean campaign have issued a call to arms, urging people to take up litter-pickers and show pride in their area.

The month-long push by Belfast Telegraph, Tidy Northern Ireland and DoE Rethink Waste to get towns and countryside across Northern Ireland cleaned up is well on course to meet its target of inspiring 25,000 people to tackle their local litter hotspots this month.

Ian Humphreys, director of Tidy Northern Ireland, said: “This is about people showing that they love where they live.

“We are on track to meet our target of doubling the level of involvement from last year. The number of registrations must now be approaching 20,000 of our 25,000 target.

“We’re delighted at the variety of groups going out to lift litter — the Whitehead Wombles, a group called Last of the Summer Wine, the usual school, community groups and companies.

“The variety of ages and sports and community groups is really good because it’s something that involves everybody.

“They’ve found everything from dead animals to dumps of material — one is even being investigated for potential fuel laundering. We’ve found needles quite commonly on the shores, including Rathlin Island and the Copeland Islands, and mainland shores as well. These are very dangerous — imagine going barefoot on a beach and coming across one of those.”

Some 309 MLAs and councillors have backed the Big Spring Clean, along with all 26 councils.

Donna Rainey, who won Coca-Cola Volunteer of the Year award in 2011, has pledged to do a clean-up every day of Big Spring Clean month and has co-ordinated three clean-ups already.

And the strangest things found so far include a car seat, a sharps box containing used syringes, cat litter, ladies underwear, a rat catcher box, dead animal parts in bags, a whole toilet and a scraper tool thousands of years old, which was found on Rathlin Island.

“We really would be appealing to everybody to get involved, whether literally from your front door to a few yards, your whole street or a community effort — it doesn’t matter, the main thing is to participate,” Ian said.

“It is very, very important to then tell us about it, so we can record it and give credit to the people who have done the work.

“We can change attitudes — we’ve done it with seatbelts, we’ve done it with smoking, and we can do it with litter.

“And people are finding once they go out and get involved, it can be a very enjoyable social event which builds strong community links. People think to themselves: ‘If we’ve done this, what else could we do?’”

Get involved now!

The Big Spring Clean needs your help. For information on how to |join our ‘green army’ during the month-long event this April, go |to www.bigspringcleanni.org. Alternatively you can talk to your local council or ring Tidy Northern Ireland on 028 9073 6920. The |Big Spring Clean now boasts 13,600 volunteers who have |gathered 122 tonnes of rubbish.

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