As we come out of two very difficult and turbulent weekends in the City, the vision for an outdoor summer in Dublin City Centre is really starting to take shape. The City has enjoyed some very vibrant and encouraging days since 7 June with the reopening of outdoor dining having a transformative and hugely calming effect. A significant amount of work has been undertaken by hundreds of Dublin City Council staff, in particular in the Traffic, Waste Management, Area Offices, Communications, Street Furniture and Events Sections to make this happen. There are still issues to address in the City Centre such as a small amount of remaining anti-social issues caused by public intoxication and problems street furniture placement is causing for older, disabled and more vulnerable citizens. An Garda Síochána and Dublin City Council will address these issues respectively in the coming weeks and months.
It is important to appreciate that the City Council was working to the Government’s recently announced Reopening Plan, under which the licensing of outdoor dining etc. was only permitted from 7 June. The decision to facilitate sale of takeaway pints and associated on-street drinking by large crowds without any regard to COVID restrictions in advance of 7 June created a real difficulty for the City Council and for An Garda Síochána.
Toilets in public buildings – Toilets in 22 public buildings remain open to members of the public to use. Usage figures remain very low despite additional signage, social media promotion and inclusion on many public toilet locator apps. Weekly usage figures to the end of May are below:
Usage figures for libraries are not available. As many of these public buildings have now reopened access to public, toilets will remain but due to general use of the buildings, we will no longer record usage figures.
Toilets Wolfe Tone Square and Grafton Street – Usage figures at both these locations remain very high averaging about 3,000 users per day. Closing times at these locations have been extended from 8pm to 10pm daily since 28 May.
Toilets incorporated in retail units tender – This tender is now complete with projects being progressed at Albert College Park, Griffith Park and Clontarf Promenade on the Northside and Clonmel Street, Portobello and Sandymount on the Southside. There is still some work to do in terms of location and services but these units will be installed as soon as possible.
Toilets Portaloos – Dublin City Council installed 150 Portaloos at 14 locations across the City on 4 June. There has been significant resistance to date to these from various residents groups and businesses across the City. Usage figures for the first weekend of operation were extremely high but as outdoor dining reopened on 7 June, the usage figures declined dramatically.
Locations at Sycamore Street and additional provision at Wolfe Tone Square have now been closed due to lack of use. This provision was moved to Portobello to facilitate reopening here. There will be a meeting this week to discuss the future of provision at Portobello.
This will leave Portaloo provision remaining at the following locations:
- Binns Bridge
- Cross Guns Bridge
- Mountjoy Square
- Diamond Park
- O’Connell Street – number to be reduced to 6
- Smithfield – number to be reduced to 4
- Portobello – to be discussed
- Chatham Row
- Coppinger Row
- Merrion Square
Toilets longer term plan – It has become apparent that while there is a need for a permanent public toilet provision at certain strategic locations across the City, especially the City Centre Portaloos are not the solution. The Office of City Recovery will undertake a public procurement exercise in the coming months to identify a longer-term solution.
Licences – to date there are 323 street furniture licenses assessed and issued. A significant amount of work goes into the issuing of each licence including lots of engagement with the applicant, site visits and internal consultation with Traffic, DFB and Area Offices.
Grants – There have been 32 completed applications with 254 in draft format for the Failte Ireland Scheme (A) Street Furniture Grants for businesses. Businesses are entitled to up to €4,000 as 75% of cost once their street furniture is licenced in the public realm or has Planning Permission on private land. These grants are being managed by the CRES Department.
Guide – Dublin City Council has launched a street furniture guide to aide businesses in making an application for a Street Furniture Licence. This is available in hard and soft copy in Irish and English.
Fee waiver – Dublin City Council has waived all fees for street furniture until 2023.
Local Live Performance Programming Scheme – Dublin City Council’s Arts Office is seeking applications for its Local Live Performance Programming Scheme Summer 2021. All interested parties including Performing Artists (ensembles/bands or individuals), Promotors, Producers, Venues etc. who wish to receive support, both individual and logistical, for outdoor performance events are invited to apply.
Street Art – A street art call for proposals will be launched in the coming weeks. It will be an open call for street and graffiti artists to participate in a programme of art to animate the public realm funded by Dublin City Council.
Hugh Lane Gallery – The Hugh Lane Gallery will be hosting six special versions of its renouned Sundays@noon concerts in the grounds of IMMA. This collaboration is assisting with the City Recovery and is the HLG’s contribution to IMMA’s 30th Anniversary. The concerts in line with public health guidelines will take place every second week on Thursday evenings at 6.30pm between June 17th and August 26th
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Fine Gael Councillor - North Inner City
Leader, Fine Gael, Dublin City Council
Chair, Urban Form & Planning Strategic Policy Committee