A Roscommon businessman, who is originally from Dublin, has expressed his outrage at a recent allegation of littering made against him by Kildare County Council, which resulted in him being issued with a €150 fine.
The businessman, who wishes to remain anonymous, has shown the Democrat his file in relation to the matter. In September 2018, he was issued with a letter and a fine under the Litter Pollution Act 1997 to 2009. In the letter, which was accompanied by a notice in relation to the alleged offence under section 3 (1) of the aforementioned act, Kildare County Council said that “an offence has been committed at the Long Road, Millicent, Co Kildare. The writer of the letter referred to the accompanying fine notice and said if the €150 wasn’t paid within 21 days that they would look to prosecute, and the fine may be as much as €4,000 on conviction. They also noted that the accused may be liable for the council’s costs.
The morning after receiving the letter, the businessman rang the environment section of Kildare County Council asking to appeal the matter, and he was asked to do so in writing. When he asked what evidence had been found to support the allegation of dumping, he was told that his business card had been found among dumped rubbish.
Later that week, he sent them a letter asking to appeal the fine and seeking a copy of the evidence. He strenuously denied the allegations in the letter also. Over a month later, Kildare County Council wrote back to the man and told him they were proceeding with the fine. The writer of the letter reiterated the severity of the possible penalties which may be applied if the matter went before the courts. He was also supplied with a copy of a picture of his business card among the rubbish, it was clearly old and tattered.
When the businessman saw the ‘evidence’ he was even more enraged. The business card which the council were relying upon was one from an old company of his, which was dissolved in 2002, some 16-years before the alleged offence took place. He consulted his solicitor in relation to the matter, as he was adamant to fight the accusations, only to be told that it would cost him more to fight it and that the only reason he was being pursued was that he was an “easy target”.
Speaking to the Democrat the man explained: “I am really annoyed about the whole thing, I paid the fine because my solicitor told me it wasn’t worth fighting and I want an easy life. It’s awful, you need to be really careful about who you give your business cards to it seems. I would ask all people in business; please ensure you use a licensed waste disposal company. If you don’t, you might find someone you know, or knew, getting cleaned along with your waste. I know now I probably should have fought it but I just hope others don’t fall into the same trap.”
The Democrat made a number of enquiries with local solicitors and were told that despite it being a very winnable case, the cost of fighting it would far out-weigh the cost of paying the fine. One solicitor explained that local authorities know this, and that is why appeals are almost never successful, and why very few matters such as this make it to the courts with the accused defending the matters.
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