Failing to punish

Clifford Fenton, who lives in the beautiful Glen of Imaal in County Wicklow, allowed his land to be used for illegal dumping. Up to eight thousand tons of waste was illegally dumped there over a number of months in 2001 (RTE News, 9th report).

The waste, which originated from the Mater Public and Blackrock Clinic hospitals in Dublin, included – Blood contained in tubes, blood stained bandages, used incontinent pads, sharps such as scalpels and needles, bodily fluids and laboratory waste. There was also construction, chemical, domestic and animal carcasses.

For most sane people this is a very serious crime. It’s one of those crimes that has the potential to cause massive environmental damage not to mention the serious risk posed to people. It’s the sort of crime where a strong message needs to be sent out by judges so that others will be deterred from such reckless activity.

Unfortunately, the judge in this case would not agree. He fined Fenton a paltry €70,000 saying that he wasn’t a serious player in the scam. This is like saying somebody who supplies a murder weapon is only a minor participant.

The owner of the waste disposal company and a truck driver are awaiting sentence. What punishment can they expect from this judge– an all expenses paid FÁS holiday to Florida perhaps.