The underground toilets at Dublin’s College Street, once to have been redeveloped as a cafe bar, have been demolished to make way for the Luas Cross City line.
Luas construction workers, under the supervision of archeologists, excavated the disused toilet block at the traffic island at the junction of Westmoreland Street and College Street over the bank holiday weekend.
The toilets were one of nine staffed facilities closed by Dublin City Council more than 20 years ago on Garda advice because of increasing anti-social problems, including drug abuse, prostitution and vandalism. Unmanned automatic public conveniences were subsequently installed at Burgh Quay, but these were also closed for similar reasons.
Ten years ago 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.
In 2010, the council invited expressions of interest for the redevelopment of the toilets which are close to the entrance of Trinity College and the Bank of Ireland at College Green, as a bar with a takeaway cafe. A successful bidder was chosen but, following the decision to go ahead with the Luas Cross City line, the plan was shelved.
The toilet space is to be used as a “technical cubicle” for the trams’ Trinity stop. Technical cubicles contain the equipment relating to each individual tram stop such as electrical power supplies and automatic vehicle location systems.
The statue of 19th-century lyricist Thomas Moore, erected in 1857, which once sat on top of the toilets, was removed to make way for the construction of the line, but will be reinstated later this year.
There are no permanent public toilets in the city, although the council has provided portable toilets for men only 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.
Public toilets were to have been provided by advertising company JC Decaux as part of the deal for the Dublin bike-rental scheme. However, this clause was removed from the final contract.
The Draft Dublin City Development Plan 2016-2022, which will come into effect next November has as an objective the provision of public toilets.