Dublin cleans up its act
Dublin has cleaned up its act to soar up the ranks of the tidiest places in Ireland, new research has indicated.
Cork City has also now attained the previously illusive "cleaner than European norm" status in a survey by Irish Business Against Litter, with the roads from Dublin airport also flying high in the ratings.
The research by the IBAL - an alliance of companies that stress the link between an area's cleanliness and its economic potential - said the major cities had improved their image for the Gathering tourism campaign - an initiative to attract the Irish diaspora to return to their homeland in 2013.
However the group warned that neglected pockets of the country's cities, among them north inner city Dublin, were still litter blackspots.
The survey, which was conducted by IBAL member An Taisce, of 42 towns and cities showed three-quarters of areas to be as clean, or cleaner, than European norms.
Cavan was Ireland's cleanest town, ahead of last year's winner Kilkenny.
Dublin, previously 5th from bottom, was ranked 'cleaner than European norms' in 14th position, with Waterford City in 3rd. Limerick City and Cork City were both successful in attaining 'clean to European norms' status.
"It has taken over 10 years to get to the point where Dublin is as clean as other European cities, and it's a real turning point in the fight against litter," said IBAL's Dr Tom Cavanagh.
"The majority of Irish towns have been clean for a number of years now. Most tourists visiting them, however, were being confronted with litter in Dublin and Cork, creating a poor first impression of our country. Only now can we really promote Ireland as being genuinely clean."
IBAL noted that over 70% of visitors enter Ireland via Dublin or Cork.
Three towns - Monaghan, Ennis and Mullingar - were branded 'littered', with a further seven towns 'moderately littered'.
IBAL said towns were suffering from the growing number of vacant properties, typically shops, which it said served as magnets for litter and graffiti.
Dr Cavanagh said: "No town is spared the challenge of managing such unused premises - they are a function of the rise in out-of-town shopping and the recession.
"However, great creativity has been shown in certain areas, notably Galway's West End, in encouraging pop-up shops, murals and civic spaces to replace what would otherwise be depressed derelict sites."