Dodder Action

dodder clean up2

“It’s a metaphor for life. You get out what you put in.” That’s what Victoria White, spokesperson for Dodder Action, tells NewsFour at this year’s Dodder cleanup when asked why this initiative is so important.

Dodder Action was formed three years ago by Kevin Dennehy, and the first ever cleanup day, from source to sea, happened two years ago. Although previous attempts were successful at local level, it became apparent that unless a river-long campaign was launched, the source of the problem would continue to resurface further down the river.

White gives an example of this. “In Firhouse, there is an old dump that has been filled in. At times of high tides or flooding, the level of the river rises and waste seeps into the river from this dump. Fly-tipping is also a problem in this area.”

The cleanup took place on Saturday April 12th at locations along the river, and approximately 200 volunteers worked in local groups under the umbrella of Dodder Action.

NewsFour asked Darren Gorman, from this year’s sponsor, Royal Bank of Canada, what brings him here today. “I can’t think of a better way to spend Saturday morning than to get out and give something back,” he replies. Today’s cleanup was part of the group’s Blue Water Project, which also takes part in the London Thames cleanup.

“Dodder Action will be campaigning for South Dublin County Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council and Dublin City Council to have no arguments about whose side of the river a shopping trolley is in. All that matters is getting it out,” White says. “We have had great support from the Council for today’s effort. They will be returning to collect the rubbish and have provided much-needed resources.”

On hand at all times throughout the day was the Irish Underwater Rescue Service Unit, whose members weren’t afraid to take the plunge, quite literally, and immerse themselves in the task of helping out. “You just have to go with the flow,” says Reggie Tester, of the Unit.

Representation from the US was present, with Cory Hanson from Iowa, an avid angler who can fully appreciate the value of the river as a resource and amenity for all. As refreshments were later served in Donnybrook Scout Hall, he stood with Councillor Gerry Ashe, comparing war wounds as the group recounted notable stories of the day. “Someone lost their trousers,” laughed Ashe as she described the curious debris pulled from the water. Another woman spoke of pulling rubbish from beneath layers of silt, which had been laid down over decades, melting the debris into the riverbed.

Underneath the fun and humour of the day, the urgency of the message was never lost and activist Victoria White propelled the activities with her pep talks on the disgrace of river pollution, but also aired her ideas for the solution. She welcomed plans to build a cycle track along the riverbank, as she noticed that the worst hit areas were less densely populated and least used.

Reports are that there has been a marked improvement for wildlife, flora and fauna since last year’s clean up, with a reappearance of the kingfisher and the otter.

More details can be found at

Pictured: Connor Finnegan from the Irish Underwater Search and Recovery unit wades in to clear out the river bed.

By Maria Shields O’Kelly