Dublin City Council should provide standalone public toilets, as previously requested by councillors, said a motion from independent Councillor Damien O’Farrell at a meeting of the council’s North Central Area Committee on Monday.
His fellow councillors in that part of the city voted in favour of the motion.
Earlier this year, council officials responded to pleas for more public toilets – which have crescendoed during the pandemic – by tendering for public toilets linked to coffee kiosks.
O’Farrell’s motion said the council should look at a different model, and draw inspiration from the standalone toilets rolled out by Fingal County Council in Howth and Portmarnock.
At the meeting, Karl Mitchell, a council executive manager, said the council is installing six new public toilet facilities, together with coffee kiosks, across the city.
“They provide an excellent service,” he said.
Public toilets have had “issues with management, anti-social behaviour and drug-taking”, Mitchell said, so the council prefers to attach them to coffee kiosks so staff there can supervise and clean them.
A spokesperson for Dublin City Council said the council has opened one of these so far, at Albert College Park in Glasnevin.
Five more are set to open this year, in Clontarf, Griffith Park in Drumcondra, Wilton Terrace near Baggot Street in Dublin 2, Clonmel Street near the Iveagh Gardens and Sean Moore Park, they said.
“The toilets at these locations are required to open at least 50 hours a week,” said the spokesperson.
The Dublin City Council spokesperson didn’t directly answer a question about whether the council has considered installing automated, self-cleaning standalone toilets.
Social Democrats Councillor Catherine Stocker said the general public doesn’t care if toilets are attached to a coffee dock or standalone but want the roll-out to happen faster.
“I, at this stage, really don’t mind which way they are delivered if they are just delivered,” she said.
Mitchell said that the council recently licensed a new coffee kiosk in Fairview Park, which will allow for toilets there to be open. “We have delivered another toilet in Fairview Park,” he said.
But the coffee kiosk operator is only there on weekends at the moment, he said.
Weekends only isn’t much use, said Stocker.
Said Mitchell: “It is envisaged that the coffee supplier will move to a seven-day week. That is one of the bases that it was tendered on.”
The council press office didn’t respond to a query asking for more details about that arrangement.
Fingal County Council is clearly ahead of Dublin City Council in providing public toilets, says O’Farrell by email, and they have shown that toilets don’t need to be linked to coffee kiosks.
Green Party Councillor Donna Cooney suggested that Dublin City Council should at least trial the use of the eco-toilets that Fingal County Council has installed.
Mitchell said he will look at what Fingal County Council have done and ask them how it’s going, and that managers will report back to the full council on the issue.
According to a press release from Fingal County Council in June of last year, the first of its new, sustainable, energy-efficient toilet blocks – at Millenium Park playground, Blanchardstown – was vandalised soon after it was opened.
O’Farrell’s motion was unanimously agreed. Said Cooney: “We all want the right to pee.”
Councillors Push for a Skatepark
At the North West Area Committee meeting on Tuesday, councillors agreed to work towards providing a skatepark in their part of the city.
Four councillors went to see the skatepark in Le Fanu Park in Ballyfermot in December, says Social Democrats Councillor Mary Callaghan.
Sinn Féin Councillor Anthony Connaghan, who alongside Callaghan, tabled a motion saying that the council should provide skateboarding facilities in the North West Area, said lots of prep is needed.
The project would require funding as well as engaging with experts on the design, he said. “We need to get this formalised and moved forward.”
The council also needs to consider whether one large skatepark is best for the area or whether to provide two smaller facilities – one each for Ballymun and Finglas, he said.
“It’s a no-brainer,” said independent Councillor Noeleen Reilly, who was one of the councillors who visited Le Fanu. The facility in Ballyfermot has transformed the area when it comes to getting young people active, she said.
In any case, Ballymun was already supposed to get a skatepark as part of the ongoing regeneration programme there, she said.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Keith Connolly said that while the skatepark in Ballyfermot is a success, the one in Cabra hasn’t worked as well, so those pushing for a skatepark in the North West Area should look at that too to learn from it.
Karl Mitchell, the council executive manager, also said that that area committee is also looking at the possibility of providing more skateparks.
He suggested that councillors seek a presentation through their arts, culture, leisure and recreation committee and work out what is best practice.
There is no capital budget available, but the council could apply for sports grants, he said.
It is vital that the provision of facilities is linked to an active youth group, which is the key to the success in Ballyfermot, said Mitchell. “I’m 100 percent behind it, I just want to make sure it’s done right.”
Callaghan and Connaghan said they wanted a working group set up as part of the North West Area committee to begin work on the idea right away.
“I’d rather it was dealt with here,” said Connaghan.
The councillors agreed to establish a new working group, with council officials and people involved in the sport, to work towards delivering at least one skatepark in the area.