Most towns litter-free, though survey raises concerns over disadvantaged areas
Most of the main towns in Ireland are free from litter, according to the latest cleanliness survey.
But while improvements have been recorded in Dublin city centre, disadvantaged areas in major cities continue to be blighted, the Irish Business Against Litter (Ibal) group has found.
Conor Horgan, from Ibal, said: "These survey findings bear out our contention that while our city centres are generally well maintained, disadvantaged areas continue to be the source of much of the litter in our country."
The worst affected areas include Farranree in Cork, deemed a litter blackspot, and Galvone in Limerick City, which was found to be seriously littered.
Mahon in Cork was littered while Galway city and its Ballybane area were categorised as "moderately littered".
By contrast, over 90% of the 25 towns inspected by An Taisce were recorded as clean, with almost half judged to be cleaner than European norms.
Once again, Kilkenny topped the table, ahead of Enniscorthy, Kildare and Waterford City.
The previously littered towns of Athlone, Portlaoise and Ennis all improved to "Clean to European Norms", while Maynooth shot up 19 places in the rankings in its best ever showing.
Dublin city centre also returned its best ever result, with Temple Bar, Grafton St, O'Connell St and Christchurch among the areas to receive top marks.
Mr Horgan added: "Dublin City Council has done a fine job in presenting the capital at its best in what was an important summer for tourism.
"This job was complemented by the roads around Dublin Airport being exceptionally clean."
However, the capital's litter problems were not entirely erased with Ballymun and North Inner city found to be strewn with cigarette butts, broken glass and illegal dumping on several sites.
Ibal said the inclusion of more city areas in its rankings was a recognition that litter was largely restricted to neglected pockets of larger cities.
Mr Horgan added: "Work at keeping these areas clean for six to 12 months and they are likely to stay clean, and the community can have pride in their neighbourhood. That does cost money initially, but the payback will be significant.
"This underlines the need to ensure that in our new house-building programme we don't replicate the mistakes of the past and ensure the 50,000 new homes planned by 2021 are built as communities, with mixed incomes, proper infrastructure and most of all are places that people have pride in - good for communities and good for business."
The survey showed sweet papers were the most common form of litter on the streets, followed by fast food wrappers, cigarette butts and chewing gum. There was also a rise in the prevalence of cans and plastic bottles.
Meanwhile, there was also evidence of a rise in the problem of illegal dumping.