City Wastelands are left to rot as absent landlords fuel crisis
A vast patch of land in prime housing space in Dublin has become a dumping ground while a director of the company listed as owning the site is residing in Cypriot sunshine.
A special Herald investigation lifts the lid on some of the worst spots around Dublin for illegal dumping.
The land, off Malahide Road, Clarehall, north Dublin, has been added to the Vacant Sites Register.
According to the Dublin City Council documents, a company registered in Ireland owns the site.
Company records show the firm's director, a British man, lives in Cyprus. He could not be contacted.
The land has been valued at only €565,000 on the register, though there's enough room at the brownfield site to build at least one apartment block.
The Herald took photographs of the land strewn with cans, plastic cups and a host of household rubbish. A fire had been recently set on one part of the land and a can of lighter fluid thrown close by.
Fine Gael councillor Declan Flanagan said: "There's a housing crisis. It's not good enough to leave land like that, it should be a goal to get homes built."
Mr Flanagan also acknowledged that leaving land to be utilised for dumping by other parties was also far from ideal after the Government recently declared a climate emergency.
A man who said he was a worker on the land told the Herald: "The land is derelict but there's a block of apartments going on here seemingly. We are testing the ground to see what foundations will be needed."
When we tried to contact two of the Dublin-based former directors of this land, one hung up.
We also visited Darndale, north Dublin, a short distance away and found a number of illegal dumping spots. One would pose a hazard to any children in housing nearby.
Two ovens were discarded on the road beside Darndale Football Club. Glass was shattered and a used nappy was nearby.
Susan French, from Darndale FC, which last month hosted a game against Celtic Legends, has been part of a group of 60 keeping the football clubhouse and the park beside it pristine.
Just next door is the illegal dumping ground.
"People dump once they see rubbish and no one is clearing it up, they just add to it," Ms French said.
"Years ago when the bins were privatised, that's when it all fell down, we got more dumping then. It brings the neighbourhood down."
In Belcamp, bedding, wheel ruts from a car, an umbrella and other household rubbish had been dumped right by a recycling centre.
On Carton Way in Ballymun, a pram, toys, a shopping basket and other items were dumped outside houses against the backdrop of Ikea.
Rubbish was also dumped in the street close to a new development of affordable housing in Ballymun, where the sod was recently turned by Independent senator Frances Black.
On one street in Ballymun - an area which recently gained the unenviable title of the most litter-ridden part of the country - glass bottles and other household rubbish were dumped in the street in bags. A street cleaning van passed by in the background.
In Rathsallagh, over in Ballybrack in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, a pane of glass, a ball, an oven grill and plastic bags full of rubbish were dumped down a laneway.
The items had clearly been there for some time.
A Dublin City Council spokesman said the local authority "carries out an investigation and removal of illegal dumping on an ongoing basis across the city".
"Where illegal dumping occurs in public places it is removed as soon as the city council becomes aware of it, either during regular routine street cleaning operations, through its own inspections or as a result of reports from the public or businesses in the city," he added.
In 2018, the city council issued 991 fines, of which 96 were successfully appealed and 454 were paid.
Successful prosecutions were secured in 26 cases before the district court, with fines ranging from €300 to €1,500, plus costs applied to those found guilty of offences. A further 17 cases were settled out of court.
Actions taken by the city council to prevent, deter and carry out enforcement in relation to illegal dumping include the use of CCTV, door-to-door compliance inspections, litter patrols, investigations of complaints received and investigations of dumped waste by enforcement staff.
A spokeswoman for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, said: "The council's litter warden for Shankill carries out regular patrols in the area, including Rathsallagh.
"Where rubbish is found, they will inspect it and if it contains evidence identifying the offender, they will issue a litter fine.
"However, in the majority of cases it isn't possible to identify who dumped the rubbish.
"Once they have examined the rubbish, they will arrange with our cleansing section to have the rubbish removed."