Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Timmy Dooley has said that answers are urgently needed as to how illegal waste dumping took place over so long at a site in Donegal.

Deputy Dooley was commenting as details emerged of a major RTÉ investigation into illegal dumping at a quarry site in the county.

“What is incredibly worrying is that reports of illegal dumping and waste were made to the local authority a number of years ago, and the Environmental Protection Agency also investigated activities at the site”, he said.

“Donegal residents paid this company in good faith to take away their waste and dispose of it in a responsible and legal way. They have been let down very badly through the actions of the company.

“The proper enforcement of waste and litter bye-laws and the appropriate level of spot checking the local authority to ensure that companies with permits are complying is a basic requirement. It seems to me that this was not happening in Donegal over the past number of years.

“The EPA directed Donegal County Council seven years ago to investigate the operation of Davey Transport Ltd. I find it hard to believe that no evidence of illegal dumping or improper waste management was found.

“This was a very serious complaint and should, I believe, have resulted in long term enquiries as to the operation of the site.

“Those who engaged in this illegal activity need to feel the full force of the law. Fines, I believe, are not the appropriate response. Custodial sentences, if possible, should be on the cards.

“Our environment is one of Ireland’s greatest assets and tourism is a key employer in Donegal.  Based on the reporting to date, those involved in this case have shown a blatant disregard for their county and their country.  It requires a strong and forceful response.

“The full scale of the environmental damage at this site, and the costs of remediation are not yet known.  However, every action that can be taken should be taken to ensure that there is proper accountability for what has been happening and that those who are responsible for it bear the financial costs for dealing with it,” concluded Dooley.