A High Price to Pee
It costs Dublin City Council the equivalent of €7 per pee to staff the public toilets at Ryder’s Row just off Parnell Street, said Karl Mitchell, the council’s Central Area manager on Tuesday.
In one week in February, 837 people used the toilets, he said, at a meeting of the council’s Central Area Committee.
“We have security and cleansing staff. It’s actually costing the taxpayer €7 every time someone uses the toilet,” said Mitchell. “That is not sustainable.”
During the Covid-19 restrictions, Dublin City Council opened new public toilets at Wolfe Tone Square and St Stephen’s Green.
At the peak of the restrictions, those two sets of toilets were well used, with 22,000 users a week, said Mitchell.
But, he said, as other facilities re-opened, that use plummeted. Not far from Ryder’s Row, there are public toilets in the Ilac Centre and the Jervis Centre.
Wolfe Tone Square is being redeveloped so the council moved the toilets to Ryder’s Row. They are not being used a lot but are attracting anti-social behaviour, said Mitchell.
The council is looking for suitable buildings near the main thoroughfares and shopping streets, he said. “We are looking at the facilities that are in Fingal. I’m not going to comment as yet as to whether they are suitable for the city centre.”
Dublin City Council plans to go out to tender to see if there is a company that they could contract to provide toilets and tourist information, he said. (That’s extra to the coffee kiosk and toilet combo for which the council has already tendered.)
Many people contact councillors saying they want public toilets in the city, said Sinn Féin Councillor Janice Boylan.
People congregate outside of the toilets in Ryder’s Row, she said, but that is not a reason to stop providing facilities. “Closing them down is not the way forward. We need to fix the problems and keep them open.”
Green Party Councillor Janet Horner said she would rather the council move the toilets, and it shouldn’t shut them until it has found a replacement or has a timeline for that.
Mitchell said that moving them again would be another cost to the city. “I think the numbers would still be low and I don’t think we would be doing a service to the taxpayer.”
“Every city has toilets that the public can use. The key thing is location, location, location,” said Fianna Fáil Councillor Eimer McCormack. “We do need toilets in our city for the majority of citizens who use them in a correct manner.”
Green Party Councillor Darcy Lonergan said the city needs “a long-term vision for public toilets”.
Mitchell said he agrees. They need to find better, more permanent solutions to providing public toilets, he said. “It would be folly to leave something in there that isn’t working.”
Protecting Buildings and Facades on Moore Street
Councillors at the Central Area Committee meeting agreed to recommend that part or all of six buildings on and around Moore Street should be added to the record of protected structures.
When a building is added to the record of protected structures it means that owners are obliged to conserve the building because the council considers it to be of special interest from an architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical point of view.
The walls should be protected, said the report, because the rebels used the adjoining buildings on Moore Street as a way to move around, by creating “creep holes” between the buildings, and the holes are still there.
“Creeping through holes into bedrooms, then downstairs and through another opening into sitting-rooms, through shops and finally to our resting place for the night,” wrote Feargus de Búrca in his witness statement, says a council report.
The recommendations came about following motions from councillors.
In 2015, the full council agreed to a motion, tabled by independent Councillor John Lyons, requesting that a number of buildings around Moore Street be assessed for protection, says a council report.
In June 2021, councillors agreed that all the buildings between 10 Moore Street and 25 Moore Street should be assessed.
Senior planner Paraic Fallon recommended that some of the buildings referred to in the motions should not be protected. Those buildings that have been fully rebuilt in recent times didn’t make the cut.
Fallon said the council should protect buildings that “were intact at the time of the rising”.
No. 10 Henry Place was known as the White House and was a significant site, he says, but the building was entirely rebuilt after 1916.
Likewise, he doesn’t recommend adding 11 Moore Street to the record of protected structures.
“While the plot at 11 Moore Street has historical, cultural and social significance, due to its connection with the rising, the building now there bears no relationship to that building,” said Fallon.
But some councillors said they don’t mind when the current building was built because they want to protect the overall site of the battlefield.
“How do we protect the site?” said independent Councillor Nial Ring. “Because it is a battlefield site.”
“It’s not just a couple of buildings, it’s a battlefield site,” said Sinn Féin Councillor Janice Boylan.
Councillors agreed that the city planner, John O’Hara, would be invited to attend the next Central Area Committee meeting to provide more information.
Some councillors want sight of reports that they have not yet seen as well, they said.