A fridge too far

Mayor says he returned dumped fridge to front door "out of pure frustration"

It was a case of a fridge too far for Athlone's Mayor who returned a dumped fridge-freezer back to the owner's front door in recent days, direct action which has earned him praise from far and wide as the lockdown litter crisis worsens.

The drama, which has become a major social media talking point locally, unfolded on Thursday of last week when a resident of a quiet housing estate in Athlone dragged a tall fridge-freezer that he no longer wanted, and laden with rotten food, before dumping it in the open green space.

As the person dragged the fridge through a quiet residential area he was asked by residents to bring it back but failed to do so.

On Friday, Athlone's Mayor Cllr Aengus O'Rourke, accompanied by the litter warden went to the person's house and knocked at the door, but no one answered.

“I left a note in his door asking him to take his fridge back,” Cllr O'Rourke said on Monday. “On Saturday morning I returned to the area, the fridge was still there. I had a trolley with me so with a friend we lifted the heavy appliance onto the trolley and wheeled it back to where it came from, I left it at his front door.”

“My decision to bring it back was born out of pure frustration and exasperation, and I'll be honest, I was angry at the blatant and reckless attitude of this individual.

"The way he dismissed his neighbours, the disrespect he had for the area and for the people around him,” added the Mayor, who has been widely praised online for his decisive action this week.

The shocking incident really struck a chord with people all over the country and he has been contacted by scores of people all over the country by phone, text and online since the weekend.

Athlone's Mayor said when it comes to dumping, he is consistent and gets involved on the ground as illustrated by the recent launch of his 'Report Illegal Dumping' (RID) campaign.

He believes there is plenty of “finger wagging” at council meetings but not enough “gritty action” or “hard-hitting sanctions” for illegal dumpers.

“This time of the year I volunteer almost every weekend doing community clean-ups and litter picks. So, you could say I am a doer rather than a finger-wagger. We have plenty of finger wagging at council meetings and in the newspapers but not enough gritty action and definitely not enough hard-hitting sanctions for people involved in illegal dumping,” he commented, saying that as Mayor he sees it as his role to show leadership in the midst of what is now a dumping crisis.

“While this was just one fridge, and one dumper in one estate I think everyone in Ireland can relate to the incident."

“I would love to name and shame these people but the law currently prevents me from doing so. I have had to tread very carefully in everything I have done in this case not to let this guy off the hook.”

Athlone's Mayor said dumpers must be hit hard in the pocket and repeatedly if the behaviour continues.

“In the absence of a naming and shaming scenario, the only way to deal with them is to hit them in the pocket - fine them hard and keep fining them if they persist with this behaviour. People should report illegal dumping to the council's freephone number 1800 819000," he advised.