Sinn Féin Organises Protest Over Waste Collection System

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Protesters outside county buildings on Wednesday. Photo by Dermot Crean

A SHORT protest was held outside Kerry County Council buildings at lunchtime on Wednesday, against a new system of bin charges which will come into effect from this September.

This new system will ban flat charges and move towards a pay-by-weight and pay-by-lift system across the whole country.

The pay by weight system has already introduced in Tralee where customers also pay a monthly standing charge.

The protest was organised by Kerry Sinn Féin and Cllr Pa Daly said the current system in Tralee and around the county is not working for the people.

“Six years ago there was a vote in Tralee Town Council to get out of the waste collection service in the town,” he said. “The two Sinn Féin representatives and one other councillor voted against, but the majority of councillors voted to get out of the service.

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“That decision has proved to be a disaster. The evidence is that the bin charges have been increasing since the new system has been brought in. The reality is there are pensioners and single people who aren’t going to pay a fixed charge per month for a small amount of waste,” he said.

“Kerry County Council sold the waste collection service to KWD and they will not disclose how much that was worth to the local authority. It included the fleets and the routes and the only concession we got was that the waivers [for pensioners] would stay and price would not increase for one year,” he said.

“Our fears at the time have come to pass. While the councillors had control over public collection we could ensure it would be affordable. Since privatisation, we’ve seen numerous social media campaigns by citizens saying they can’t afford the charging structure being imposed on them, we have an increase in fly-tipping and everything we have predicted has come to pass.”

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Cllr Toireasa Ferris said she would like to see the Council supplying the service again, but said it would be difficult.

“Once a service is privatised it is very difficult under EU law to bring back a public service, but we don’t believe it’s impossible. We would like to see a day when Kerry County Council get back into the waste collection service. The costs that were constantly being flagged as being a loss to the local authority, as a result of being engaged in the service, have continued as we still have to maintain the landfill. Those costs were the reason given by Council management for getting out of the service,” she said.

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