Plastic beads in Grand Canal a risk to wildlife

17 July 2019

Labour Councillor for Kimmage Rathmines in Dublin City Council has outlined the lack of accountability and action from Waterways Ireland in responding to plastic pollution on the Grand Canal where small beads of polystyrene have been floating in the water from Sally’s Bridge at Clogher Road down to Portobello Dock for nearly two weeks.

Cllr Freehill explained:

“Since 6th July small beads of polystyrene have been floating along the canal, the source of this is a burst sleeping bag at Sally’s Bridge.  Despite every effort by Canal Volunteers to clean as much of this up as possible these beads are still floating down as far as Portobello Bridge.  This is a major threat to the health of wild life on the canal.”

Dublin City Council’s Cllr Mary Freehill and former Lord Mayor says that because of lack of accountability the biodiversity and wildlife of Dublin City is at risk. 

Dublin’s canals are the responsibility of Waterways Ireland whose headquarters is in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. This is a quango that is not accountable to Councillors, and Dublin City Council has no oversight powers in relation to the canals.   

“I have reported this to the City Council and the response they have received from Waterways Ireland on 9th July, over 7 days ago now is as follows:

“Our Operations team are looking to see what resources can be allocated to remove this. A vessel is required to access this stretch and at present our boats are positioned as a priority to cut weeds to ensure water can flow in to Dublin canals.”

Cllr Freehill went on to say: 

“This microplastic waste is a threat to wildlife, and the lack of a priority response is unacceptable. Meanwhile our birds and swans are at risk of ingesting these beads.

“This is just another example of how when services are centralised and dispersed that local government is powerless to run the city.  Our Government cannot continue to hide behind unaccountable quangos and bring Ireland in line with the rest of Europe and give local government the powers to provide services to the citizens”

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