360k a year to run two public toilets

by Gazette Reporter

PUBLIC toilets are set to be rolled out across the capital this summer in a deal between Dublin City Council and coffee dock operators

CC has been under pressure to expand facilities since two temporary conveniences were installed last year in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However the temporary public loos at St Stephen’s Green and Wolfe Tone Square are costing upwards of e360,000 a year to operate, it has emerged.

The council is now considering less costly options – including a scheme which could see discount licence fees for coffee stands which provide toilets.

This would remove the prohibitive €500-a-day staffing cost. It comes as €17m is being allocated nationally for outdoor dining this summer.

Thousands have signed various online petitions calling for more public toilets to be installed in the city. 

There were more than 60 staffed public toilets in the city and suburbs in the 1970s, but by the 1990s it had dropped to nine.

By the turn of the century there was nowhere to spend a penny as conveniences were closed due to drug abuse and vandalism.

Meanwhile permanent European-style dining is on the menu with e17m in State funding to develop an outdoor scheme in partnership with local authorities.   

Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin and Fáilte Ireland announced the details of the two-part initiative last week.

The first grants for businesses – open from April 12 via local authority websites – will allow them to increase outdoor seating capacity in the short-term.

Applicants can apply for a grant of up to €4,000 to cover the costs of outdoor tables, chairs, umbrellas, electric heaters, screens or windbreaks.

Read more in this weeks Dublin Gazette out now

Further funding will allow councils to develop permanent and weather-proofed outdoor public dining spaces, following the lead of other EU countries.

Minister Martin said: “The aim is to support jobs and businesses and to transform appropriate outdoor spaces within our cities and towns as welcoming, vibrant places that will help support economic recovery.

“This funding announcement further strengthens this Government’s commitment to the development of rural towns, as outlined in the ‘Our Rural Future’ plan announced earlier this week.”

The Irish Wheelchair Association has urged proper planning around the new scheme to ensure streets are accessible for those with disabilities.

Its advocacy manager Joan Carthy said: “Last year there were a lot of problems… wheelchair accessible [parking] spaces were being taken over and tables were put into them to give extra space.”

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien welcomed the Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme. He said: “We know we can’t depend on the weather here in Ireland and so local authorities will be able to apply for funding to develop permanent public dining spaces in specially zoned streets in towns and cities.

“This will facilitate weather-proofing to allow outdoor dining all year-round with parasols, wind breakers and electric heaters. When the time comes for the industry to reopen again we want to ensure they are supported in doing so to the fullest extent possible.”

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