Calls for eco-toilets to be provided in Dublin’s Phoenix Park

There have been calls for more public toilets in Dublin's Phoenix park. Pic: Brian Lawless/PA

Amy Blaney

Eco-toilets should be installed in Dublin’s Phoenix Park where there is a “lack” of water supply, the Seanad has been told.

Senator Emer Currie said the only permanent toilets are located within the main tourist attractions and are not accessible to people walking in remote areas of the park.

She added there has been a “step in the right direction” with portaloos installed on a pilot basis.

A major overhaul is currently being considered for the Phoenix Park under a new draft parking strategy by the Office of Public Works (OPW) to reduce congestion and increase uptake with public transport. Parking charges are among the proposals being considered.

However, junior minister Ossian Smyth said it’s “difficult” to install toilets in the park due to the lack of fresh water and wastewater facilities.

“The toilet facilities in Phoenix Park have been developed to date where there is a suitable water and wastewater infrastructure,” he said.

“There are public toilets located at various locations, including the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, the tea kiosk adjacent to Dublin Zoo, Farmleigh House, Knockmaroon Biodiversity Centre and a number of temporary toilets have been located at the Papal Cross car park.”

However, Senator Currie has said “we don’t need wastewater infrastructure” for toilets and called for eco-toilets, similar to those used by Fingal County Council, to be installed in the park.

“The reason we have always been given is a lack of suitable water supply and wastewater infrastructure in the park, but we don’t need wastewater infrastructure,” she said.

Senator Currie said the eco-toilets are “designed for areas that don’t have a requirement for water supply, for wastewater connection or even power supply”.

“Why aren’t we moving forward with this kind of infrastructure in the Phoenix Park?” she asked.

“Using these eco-toilets that are actually run on a composting basis would fit in with how people use the park and prevent people from going to the same places.

“The Phoenix Park should be welcome to everybody and this is a key aspect of making that happen,” she added.

In response, Minister Smyth said “it’s difficult to install toilets in the park, not just because you need wastewater facilities, you also need freshwater facilities”.

He added that he would bring the idea of eco-toilets to Minister Patrick O’Donovan for consideration.

Mr Smyth said new toilet facilities will be provided at the Magazine Fort during its restoration, while an assessment is ongoing of the old toilet block in the People’s Gardens that was destroyed in a fire.

The building is currently in “disrepair” and requires extensive restoration work, he said.

“Regional architects are assessing the condition of the old toilet block in the People’s Gardens. Unfortunately, the toilets were subject to considerable anti-social behaviour which led to this decision to close them to the public.

“It is hoped that the full refurbishment works of these toilets can be undertaken during 2024, subject to the results of the full assessment of the building,” he added.

An initial public survey was undertaken in July last year to collect views from the public on the park and received more than 5,000 responses.

In April, the OPW published its Phoenix Park draft parking strategy which considered parking fees to clamp down on illegal and “unsustainable” parking.

It also considers expanding the Lord’s Walk car park from 250 spaces to up to 400 and building a new car park near the Castleknock Gate.