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Council to open up its toilets to public

THE doors of city buildings may be thrown open in an attempt to tackle the capital's chronic lack of public toilets.

Council chiefs intend to formally allow people to access the bathroom facilities in local authority properties.

Among the buildings likely to be included in the initiative are City Hall on Dame Street and Civic Offices on Wood Quay -- but the Mansion House is not expected to figure.

The Central Library in the Ilac shopping mall, the Dublin City, Pearse Street and Kevin Street libraries may be used.

Council officials are currently investigating which buildings would be suitable.

The initiative is part of a community project, which has seen the local authority write to businesses and State agencies.

"We identified a number of key organisations across the city that already have facilities that are available to the public ... (The toilets) are already being used by the public but we want to formalise that and have that information available through signage and on the internet," city official Hugh Coughlan said.

"We intend to lead by example here in the city council," Mr Coughlan told councillors.

Other than council properties, the key locations are railway stations like Heuston and Connolly, as well as the Ilac and the St Stephen's Green shopping centres.

The council has written to organisations like Irish Rail, Bus Eireann and the fast food chain McDonald's to outline its ideas and is currently awaiting a response.

It has virtually ruled out reopening some of the capital's now closed public toilets because of a lack of funds and also because they were a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

For large-scale public events, the council is to invite tenders from companies to provide portable conveniences.

As things stand, outlets in the city centre allow only paying customers to access their toilets.

Fast-food restaurants, in particular, often use security guards to enforce the rule. But the council wants to change this approach with its community toilet scheme.