The Ques­tion Why is Dublin still a Dirty Ol’ Town?

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - NEWS REVIEW -

This week, Dublin busi­nesses voted to re­tain the Busi­ness Im­prove­ment Dis­trict (BID) group, which is known as Dublin Town and pro­motes and as­sists busi­ness in the cap­i­tal, for an­other five-year term. The build-up to the vote was quite ac­ri­mo­nious, and the group’s ef­forts to help clean the cap­i­tal be­came a ma­jor point of con­tention. Trade unions Siptu and Im­pact weighed in to say that the city’s waste-man­age­ment ser­vices can be pro­vided by Dublin City Coun­cil staff, with no need for Dublin Town’s ad­di­tional clean­ing ser­vices.

What­ever about the mer­its or oth­er­wise of Dublin Town’s larger ef­forts on be­half of the cap­i­tal’s busi­ness com­mu­nity, the no­tion that Dublin City Coun­cil can clean our city on its own sounds out­landish to most res­i­dents, be­cause even their com­bined ef­forts ap­pear in­ef­fec­tive. While it may have grown up in many re­spects over the past few decades, Dublin finds it im­pos­si­ble to shake off its Dirty Ol’ Town moniker, and it re­mains one of the grim­i­est, most un­kempt cities in Europe.

There is a dearth of bins in the city cen­tre, and they are usu­ally full to over­flow­ing, with the pre­dictable re­sult that the streets are lit­tered. Be­yond the ci­garette butts and rub­bish, the foot­paths are per­sis­tently stained with grime and chew­ing gum. Fur­ther­more, the paving is ad-hoc and un­even, ad­mit­tedly not helped by the in­ter­minable Luas Cross City works that have dis­rupted the city cen­tre for the past few years.

Clean­ing the streets is not merely a ques­tion of re­sources, but pri­or­i­ties – and it is more than just a pri­or­ity for af­flu­ent cities such as fa­mously im­mac­u­late Stock­holm or Vi­enna. For in­stance, Spain was hit even harder than us by the fi­nan­cial cri­sis, and yet their mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have main­tained a ded­i­ca­tion to keep­ing their streets pris­tine. Ul­ti­mately, the state of our streets re­flects a lack of a sense of own­er­ship over the pub­lic space – we don’t feel re­spon­si­ble for the city in the way res­i­dents of other cities of­ten do. In the mean­time, pri­ori­tis­ing proper clean­ing of the city, is an im­por­tant step.

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