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Businesses asked to let passers-by use toilets

DUBLIN pubs and restaurants are to be asked to allow the public to spend a penny for free.

The City Council has come up with the plan in a bid to make up for the capital's lack of public conveniences.

The issue has been a long-standing problem, ever since the city's permanent facilities were closed down.

Officials tried to solve the problem on Camden Street by installing portaloos at weekends to help prevent drunken revellers from urinating on the streets.

The council has insisted the Camden Street facilities have had a positive effect, despite criticisms they are unsightly.

But the local authority previously ruled out constructing permanent toilets as there is no budget for such a project.

It has come up with a plan to ask businesses like department stores, pubs and fast-food restaurants to open up their facilities to the public, even if they are not customers.

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

City officials looked at a scheme in London where Richmond council introduced an initiative in which dozens of businesses have now allowed their facilities to be used.

Its community toilet scheme means that facilities in pubs, restaurants, shops and other businesses are accessible to the public.

Richmond says there are nearly 100 premises taking part, while interactive maps showing the location of participating premises have been produced.

The businesses also display stickers on their windows.

The council has been under pressure to tackle the problem.

In September last year, Labour councillors tabled a motion telling officials public showers and toilets must be installed in the city centre.

Up to 13 of the party's councillors put their names to the proposal urging Dublin City Council to act on the proposals.

The plans were originally drawn up by the homeless charity Trust but the aim was to provide facilities for all members of the public.

They wanted officials to devise a strategy to progress "previously agreed plans for a new toilet complex at College Green", beside Trinity College.

A plan was devised in 2007 to spend €800,000 on the facilities on College Green.

But the economic downturn meant the plans were binned.