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Please stop using our doorway as a toilet -- library

THE National Library is to block off its doorway at night to stop people "using it as a toilet".

Staff are being regularly forced to clean up urine and faeces, it can be revealed.

The problem has become so bad that officials have now sought permission to erect gates on the steps of the premises. They also want to put a screen over the dividing wall between the library and Alliance Francaise next door.

The application states that they hope people will refrain from sleeping in the doorway of the Kildare Steet library.

However, another reason is to prevent members of the public from using the doorway as an open lavatory.

Mark Hardy, the Buildings Manager for the National Library, told the Herald that he has no problem with homeless people having a presence in and around the library, but expecting staff to clean up the mess is a different issue.

"We have homeless people who come in and use our facilities [toilets] all the time," he said. "We'd prefer to have people come in and use the facilities, rather than going in the doorway. I don't mind. There's one guy who comes in all the time, I was just talking to him this morning."



injecting

"But we can't expect staff to be cleaning that up [at the doorway]."

As well as it being a health and safety issue, staff at the library have also experienced some aggressive behaviour from members of the public who are found sleeping in the doorway. Although keen to stress that most people are fine to deal with, staff have seen drug addicts inject themselves there and feel intimidated.

"We usually have to start trying to move them from 6am onwards, because we want to get it all cleaned up before the public arrive," Mark told the Herald.

"But there have been instances where we've had to call the Gardai because people have been getting aggressive with staff when we've tried to move them. This has been going on for years and we've been trying to sort it.

"Sometimes, some of them are still there injecting themselves with drugs when people get there for work in the morning. People are being intimidated," he said.

Fr Peter McVerry, founder of Peter McVerry Trust -- an organisation which helps young homeless people -- told the Herald that he doesn't blame the National Library for their actions. Instead, the blame should lie with poor services for homeless people in Dublin.

"I have no criticism of the National Library. They're in an impossible situation. The issue isn't with the library, the issue is with the failure of society and social services," he said

"We don't respect the dignity of homeless people in this country. The fact is that some homeless people feel safer sleeping on the street than they do in emergency homeless shelters. They are liable to be robbed or assaulted, and are constantly surrounded by drugs."

A decision has yet to be made on the application, but Mr Hardy told the Herald that due to how long the National Library has been attempting to rectify the situation, the process is expected to be moved on "fairly quickly."

hnews@herald.ie


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