Dublin City Council (DCC) is appealing to businesses in the city centre to sign up to a public private partnership scheme that would allow members of the public to use their toilets.
Dublin businesses will be asked to open their facilities to people, even non-customers, due to the by-now almost complete absence of public toilets on Dublin's streets.
The city council is unable to afford the upkeep of permanent public facilities and provides just two temporary toilets which are only open at weekends and cater for men only. Located on Camden St and Westmoreland St in the centre, the portaloos cost the council about €50,000 annually.
Acknowledging that residents and visitors to a “modern, vibrant capital city” should have access to public toilets, the council was inspired by a scheme successfully ushered in by its Richmond counterpart in London, where some 100 businesses agreed to open their toilets to passersby, including non-customers. The locations are identified by stickers on their shop fronts while street signs direct those in need.
The DCC believes that a similar system would work in Dublin but that businesses would retain the right to refuse entry in “exceptional circumstances”. The Dublin City Business Association said it was open to considering such a scheme until such time as Dublin's permanent public toilets came back on stream but that the issue of charging people to spend a penny should be at the discretion of individual businesses.
In the 1970s Dublin had over 60 staffed public toilets but over the decades many of them had become "no-go areas". By the end of the 1990s the council had shut them all, citing "serious antisocial behaviour" as the main reason for the closures.