JUST a single fine has been issued since the launch of a new ?10,000 crackdown on dog fouling in Dublin ? and that fine hasn't been paid yet.
The campaign was launched last November "to sort out the problem of dog fouling in streets and parks across Dublin city and county" at a cost of ?10,000 to the taxpayer.
However, the Sunday Independent can reveal that the initiative has failed to result in any prosecutions, while the single fine that was issued is still outstanding.
The Joint Dog Fouling Campaign is a joint initiative from Dublin City Council and three regional county councils in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin, and includes a hotline that can be used to report dog fouling.
Under the Litter Pollution Act 1997, it is an offence for a person to allow a dog under their control to foul a public place. A dog owner who fails to clean up after their animal faces an on-the-spot fine of ?150, with a maximum fine of ?3,000 for those convicted.
The campaign's ?10,000 budget was spent on media coverage, distributing information to all houses in the city and county, and on talks delivered to residents and in schools. Despite this, the four local authorities have gotten a total of just 28 complaints since the initiative began, with South Dublin County Council receiving as few as two complaints.
As of last week, Fingal County Council, which received eight complaints, was the only authority to issue a fine, but it must wait on a witness report in order to proceed further.
It also issued two warning letters, but was unable to issue fines in those cases due to a lack of substantial evidence.
Dublin City Council and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council received 10 and eight complaints respectively ? but none resulted in fines. A spokesperson for Dublin City Council said that most complaints did not result in fines being issued because there was "no evidence or insufficient information provided".
Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisin Quinn, who helped launch the initiative, admitted that dog fouling continues to be an issue on streets across the county, but said that the campaign had a limited budget which did not allow for active policing.
"You're not going to solve the problem by policing it out. We just don't have the resources," he told the Sunday Independent.
Mr Quinn said the campaign had taken an educational approach, and encouraged the idea that it is "socially irresponsible" for dog owners to not clean up after their animal, but that this is an easily changeable behaviour.
He also claimed it was "probably too early" to determine whether the campaign had been a success.