One set of public toilets opened in Dublin during the COVID pandemic is costing the taxpayer an average of €7 per use.
The new toilets were opened on Wolfe Tone Square and St Stephen’s Green at the height of COVID-19 restrictions.
Dublin City Council said they were well-used during lockdown – with up 22,000 people per week visiting one of other of the facilities.
Since the city reopened however, the usage appears to have plummeted.
More recently, the Wolfe Tone Square toilets were moved to nearby Ryder’s Row and in one week in February just 837 people made use of them.
Due to cost of security and cleaning staff, it cost €7 for every use that week.
"There should be more"
Newstalk reporter Josh Crosbie visited the Ryder’s Row facility for The Hard Shoulder today and counted 13 people using the toilets over a one-hour period.
These people told him the toilets must stay, regardless of the cost.
“There absolutely needs to be more of them,” said one. “Anywhere else, you go to you have to pay to get into or you have to buy something.
“I wouldn’t be willing to pay for a public toilet, it is a basic human right. With the prices of everything in Dublin and the cost-of-living, the least you should be able to do is use the jacks for free.
“It could be nicer but yeah it is value for money. There should be more of them.”
"Value for moeny"
One woman agreed that €7 is not good value for money, but noted: “The thing is, when these places are not open, people have very few choices, so they are urinating all over the place.”
Meanwhile, the CEO of the Temple Bar Company Martin Harte said the association runs a street cleaning team – with public urination and defection a “major part of what we clean up on a daily basis.”
He said the issue is not limited to night-time hours when people are out in bars and pubs.
“Everyone automatically thinks, oh Temple Bar, somebody’s peeing on the street after coming out of the pub at night - and that does happen I can’t say it doesn’t - but the amount of use the streets suffer due to the lack of public toilets is a 24-hour issue,” he said.
“If you walk down the Quays, you will see people waiting for buses and they go down the laneways for a pee while they’re waiting on the bus. I have seen taxi drivers, on a daily basis, using the taxi ranks as public urinals.
“So, the lack of facilities in the city is problem and it is not just for drunken revelers it is for everybody. There is a real need for this in the city. Dublin needs more toilets.”
Meanwhile, Green Party Councillor Darcy Lonergan told Josh that the city needs a mixture of different offerings.
She said businesses should be offered reduced rates to open their toilets to the public.
Reporting from Josh Crosbie
Main image shows people queuing to use the public toilets beside St Stephens Green in Dublin, 29-03-2021. Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews