Busted flush: Dublin City Council fails to spend €200,000 fund for public toilets

Money earmarked a year ago to provide facilities in the city centre remains unused

Dublin City Council has failed to spend a penny of a €200,000 fund allocated by councillors more than a year ago to provide public toilets in the city.

The last public toilets in the city centre were removed more than 20 years ago. Councillors have since lobbied the city management to reinstate some such facilities.

In November 2018 Dublin city councillors approved a budget of €200,000 for two public toilet facilities, one on the northside and one on the southside of the city centre. However, more than a year on the money remains unspent.

The council's head of finance, Kathy Quinn, said the provision of "automated public conveniences" had been considered, but "it is the view that such units would not be suitable for city-centre locations and would not be sufficient to provide suitable family-friendly facilities".


Fine Gael councillor Paddy McCartan said the money was allocated by the elected members and should have been used as intended. "We get the same answer all the time, that public toilets are unsuitable or unsafe. The management needs to come back to us with some solid proposals. Has this money just been flushed away?"

Ms Quinn said the council was studying a “serviced retail-based model” of pay-per-use toilet provision, as operated in other European countries.

The council in 2012 proposed a similar system where businesses would be asked to open their facilities to the public free of charge, based on a project operated by Richmond council in London, but the scheme never emerged.

Anti-social problems

The city centre’s nine staffed facilities were closed by the council in the mid-1990s on Garda advice because of increasing anti-social problems, including drug abuse and vandalism. Unmanned automatic public conveniences were subsequently installed at Burgh Quay, but these were also closed for similar reasons.

In 2006, the council said it would examine the possibility of reopening the College Street facilities, following pressure from councillors. The following year a plan was devised to refurbish the toilets and install CCTV cameras at a cost of €800,000, but it never came to fruition. The structure has since been demolished to make way for the extension of the Luas.

Public toilets were to have been provided by advertising company JCDecaux as part of the deal for the Dublinbikes bike-rental scheme. However, this clause was removed from the final contract.

Although there are no permanent public toilets in the city centre, the council has previously provided portable toilets for men at the weekend in an attempt to cut down on street urination. It has not, however, provided similar facilities for women as, the council said, it has not experienced problems with women urinating on the city streets.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times