Ireland’s Public Toilets – everyone’s talking about them!
Over the years, Ireland’s public toilets have been ignored and neglected, leaving the situation really quite dire in many of the major cities, and especially in Dublin. This has been particularly highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had more people out walking and enjoying the fresh air, but unable to relieve themselves. As councils around the country start to realise the need for more public toilets, we take a look at why they are so important.
Supporting Rough Sleepers
In Dublin city centre, there have been just two public toilets open in the city centre, throughout the pandemic. This has led to a severe lack of facilities for Dublin’s population of rough sleepers. This has led to them having to relieve themselves in open areas, and even in the same areas where they have been forced to bed down for the night.
“Toilets are a basic amenity that we all need. I know certainly around some tents you can see evidence of where people have been going… it’s degrading for them,” a member of the MQI rough sleeper outreach team said.”
The pandemic has closed down most of the accommodation provided for rough sleepers in the city centre, and the lack of facilities for sanitary provision in the city centre has exacerbated the already poor mental health of many of these people. Early in the pandemic, measures were put in place to protect homeless people from Covid-19 as much as possible, including providing temporary accommodation, as well as a focus on testing vulnerable groups. However, level five restrictions saw the shuttering of facilities at MQI’s Riverbank centre and other locations that would have been used previously by rough sleepers.
More permanent facilities will save money
In the 1970’s there were over 60 staffed public toilets in Dublin City Centre. By the 1990s this number had dropped to just nine. The number soon dropped to zero and the COVID-19 pandemic forced the opening of two temporary public toilet facilities in the city centre. These two facilities cost upwards of 360,000€ a year to operate. This is considerably more than installing permanent public facilities would cost.
The council have stated that money will be available to encourage permanent European style outdoor dining for the summer in Dublin, and this includes a scheme which could see discount license fees for coffee stands which provide public toilets. However, more people are visiting the city and choosing to holiday at home – so more toilets will be needed!
Ireland’s public toilets promote outdoor activities
Across Ireland, companies are developing 22 new outdoor water-based activities thanks to a €19 million investment to develop these state of the art facilities. More outdoor activities are a fantastic step forward in improving the national health of the country, and all the facilities will be accessible and wheelchair friendly.
The building of these new facilities will also require an investment in more public toilets across the country, in order to support these facilities. More and more people are venturing outside around the country to improve health, fitness and mental wellbeing. Less people are travelling abroad for their holidays and therefore these facilities will be a welcome addition to tourism in the country. These facilities need eco-focused and accessibility friendly public toilets.
Over the past forty years, Ireland’s public toilets have been pushed to the back of the agenda whilst public funding was spent elsewhere. The infrastructure of the country has now reached a point where this must be remedied for the good of the country. From 60 public toilets in the capital to 0 in forty years is a huge drop and has led to poor sanitation for the people of Dublin and those who live in the city centre, painfully aware of the lack of facilities.
Dublin Council, Fingal Council, and many more have already begun work towards fixing this issue and we look forward to seeing more and more councils across Ireland start to improve the standards of public hygiene by putting new public toilets at the top of the agenda.May 20, 2021 3:00 pm