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Newly installed portaloos on South King Street Emer Moreau
Sin bin

The extra bins and portable loos have arrived - but business owners in Dublin say long-term solution needed

Some 150 portable toilets, 54 large Eurobins and 80 Barrel Bins are to be installed across the city.

 BUSINESS OWNERS IN Dublin city centre have said that the installation of portable toilets and additional bins – ahead of large crowds expected over the weekend – isn’t a long-term solution to public disorder problems.

Dublin City Council (DCC) has today started to install toilet and bins across the city following criticism of a lack of facilities in the capital to allow people to socialise outdoors in line with public health guidelines.

Some 150 portable toilets, 54 large Eurobins and 80 Barrel Bins are to be installed across the city from this bank holiday weekend.

But business owners in the area who spoke to The Journal today said they were concerned that the facilities won’t solve the problem of public drunkenness and potential danger to their staff and premises.

There are concerns that, now that people are used to gathering in the city centre and drinking in the street or in parks, this pattern of behaviour will remain an issue for the summer even as hospitality and other sectors gradually reopen. 

Brendan Fagan, the owner of Stock, which sells homeware on South King Street, said he was concerned that a dozen portable toilets had been placed directly opposite his premises.

“In the short term, it might be a solution. But in the long term, they’re going to have to do something about it.”

Chris Keegan, the owner of Kaph coffee shop on Drury Street, said that in eight years of trading, he has never had social order issues until now.

“It’s getting out of control, and there are assaults, properties being damaged,” Keegan said.

“And then the kinds of customers who like to come here, my own customers … are going to stay away.”

There needs to be a permanent Garda presence in the area, he added.

Fagan said that the so-called “100-feet rule” – where people can’t consume takeaway pints within 100 feet of the place where they bought them – was causing problems because drinkers were sprawling around the pedestrianised streets, some of which have no pubs, and leaving large amounts of litter behind.

Pubs and restaurants can re-open outdoor areas from Monday, but several business owners said that a lot of the people coming to the city centre were not purchasing takeaway pints – they were bringing their own drinks in from elsewhere.

In the latest incident, Stephen’s Green was closed an hour early last night after gardaí responded to large crowds gathered in the area, some of whom were drinking.

Some people in the green also pulled down fencing around a bandstand, which had been cordoned off by the Office of Public Works in order to protect the structure. 

The bandstand was fenced off once again this morning.

Portable toilets and fencing were also installed along the Royal Canal in Phibsborough, in a location that has become a popular spot for socialising over the last twelve months.

IMG_0960 The bandstand in Stephen's Green was cordoned off again this morning, after the fencing was pulled down yesterday

In a statement to The Journal, a spokesperson for Dublin City Council said:

“Following a meeting with 63 local businesses in the South William St. area on Monday the 31st May 2021 the clear request and instruction from the business community to Dublin City Council was to provide additional public toilet facilities and bins.”

“There is a clear demand from both businesses and public representatives for Dublin City Council to provide these additional public amenities at this time. Dublin City Council have acted quickly and fulfilled this request,” the spokesperson said.

“The consumption of alcohol in a public place remains contrary to Dublin City Council’s Intoxicating Liquor Bye-laws.”

David Hennessy, the owner of Sun Bear Gelato on nearby Dawson Street, said that crowds of drunk people were an issue but that DCC should not be blamed:

“They’ve worked hard. It’s been difficult for everybody. I don’t see why people are having a go at Dublin City Council … It’s not up to the council to put toilets on the streets. It’s up to the pubs that are selling the drink.”

“It’s a bit late to be putting toilets out now,” he added.

Another business owner in the area said that one of their shop’s windows had been smashed by a group of drunk people, and one of the shop’s staff members had been injured by the same group and had to go to hospital.

The owner, who didn’t want to be named as they feared their shop would be targeted again, said that businesses in the area were very close knit and feared that the friendly spirit of the street would be lost.

“They’re bringing their own boom boxes and whatnot – they’re treating it like a festival. Most other festivals will have security and be managed. This is like an unofficial festival that is totally unmanaged.”

Indeed, several business owners, when speaking to The Journal, likened the recent scenes to a poorly managed festival. But Jill Henderson of Jill and Gill, an online store currently operating a pop-up shop across from the green, said of the additional facilities:

“I think it would be better if there were incentives … maybe to pick up your rubbish and bring it back and get money back or get your free pints.”

Jill and Gill’s pop-up shop is due to close soon, but Henderson said that the planned events to celebrate its last day had been cancelled due to the crowds in the city centre.

Meanwhile, DCC has put out a call for applications for its local live performance programming scheme, which is run by its Office of City Recovery.

Performers applying can receive both financial and logistical supports and DCC has said all events will be either free or have a nominal charge.

The deadline for applications has been set for 12 noon of 23 June.

With additional reporting from Niamh Quinlan.

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