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New weapon in city's war on dog dirt

LITTER wardens have a new weapon in the battle against dog fouling -- a vacuum cleaner.

The cleaners are to be used from next week as part of a pilot project in Clontarf and on the tourist trail between Christchurch and the Guinness Brewery.

Two types of machines will be used -- a back-pack cleaner and a hand-vac.

The larger device is basically a vacuum attached to a wheelie bin and will be piloted in Clontarf, said Dublin city official Bernie Lillis.

"They used this machine in the Temple Bar area to vacuum up cigarette butts and it works quite well," she told councillors.

The council is also going to start using a smaller, handheld version. "We're going to use that machine on the tourist trail from Christchurch to Guinness'," Ms Lillis said.

The plans were devised by the council's litter monitoring group, which assesses street cleaning the capital.

It has long waged war on dog dirt -- but most of the previous schemes have not worked.







Penalties

The machines will eventually be used on other routes, and a poster campaign has also been launched.

Statistics show that only three fines for dog-littering were paid in five years -- and the council only issued 17 fines for the offence between 2007 and 2011. Just three of those penalties were paid.

This highlights the difficulty in enforcing Section 22 of the Litter Pollution Acts, which covers the offence.

Fine Gael's Edie Wynne said some areas in Terenure and Rathgar, where children walk to school, are "quite awful" when it comes to dog litter.

She wondered if vacuums would be available to the public, as it is a much better way of dealing with the problem than carrying around plastic bags.

Deirdre Heney, of Fianna Fail, said there have been similar initiatives before that have not worked. She added that people paid no attention to anti-dog fouling signs.

"The issue that is raised on a continuing basis... is the fact that people walk in it and bring it into their homes," Ms Heney told a meeting of the council's environment committee.

comurphy@herald.ie