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Anger over closed toilets

Residents and visitors in Mountshannon were left frustrated and angry last weekend when there were no public toilet facilities open to them.
Throngs of people descended on the scenic East Clare village to enjoy the hot weather and to partake in activities on Lough Derg over the weekend but were aggrieved to learn the public toilets were locked.
Despite assurances given to The Clare Champion last month that the facilities would be open from the May Bank Holiday weekend, they remained closed last weekend.
Frustrated locals and business people have now called on the county council to rectify the situation, as the issue could cost the village tourists and visitors in the crucial summer period.
Historian and author Gerard Madden, who also runs a boat service on Lough Derg, said, “It was the biggest crowd in 12 months up at Mountshannon. There were at least 500 people and everybody was complaining about the toilets. There is no excuse for it. It was the busiest weekend I’ve seen in two years. There are signs out for people to pick up after their dogs and there people were with babies and there were no toilet facilities. The hotel and local pubs had to open up their facilities. People are very angry. It’s just not on. There is graffiti on the toilets and I would say it has been done just out of pure frustration,” he said.
In a statement from Clare County Council, the local authority explained that the toilets had been open on previous occasions last month but that due to reduced resources, manpower and money, they were not in a position to open the toilets last weekend.
“The positive news is that the toilets will be opened and manned from this week onwards,” a spokesperson for the council stated.
County councillors Joe Cooney and Pat Burke have also expressed their dissatisfaction with the current situation in Mountshannon and outlined that it could cost the region tourists.
“A lot of people are concerned and people are not happy that the toilets are not open. They had to go to shops and pubs for these facilities.
“As a member of the East Clare Tourism committee, this is a bad reflection on tourism for East Clare and we would want to get our act together or we’ll be turning people away. Mountshannon is one of East Clare’s most beautiful amenities and it is very important that all facilities are kept up to standard, along with others in the county,” Councillor Cooney stated.
Meanwhile, Pauline Madden, manager of the Mountshannon Hotel, said, “This situation is very frustrating. The whole place is giving out about that area and the fact that there are no toilet facilities. Anybody who has come here to eat is saying, ‘why aren’t the toilets open, it’s a disgrace’. There were a few hundred people there at the weekend and we have had a load of people coming here to use our facilities. I’m paying water rates to Clare County Council and I don’t see why I should have to facilitate the public who don’t pay to use my services. The hotel is not a public walk through. I would call on the council to rectify the situation as soon as possible.”
Sean Lenihan, senior executive engineer for the Scariff area, explained that the council hadn’t the resources to place a man in Mountshannon on a permanent basis.
“The toilets have been vandalised, previously on the inside and the outside. The toilet rolls have been removed and if that type of carry on continues we’ll have to consider our position. We painted the toilet facilities recently and they have been further defaced.That shouldn’t have to be tolerated,” he said.
In a formal statement to The Clare Champion, the county council explained the background to date in relation to the toilet facilities in Mountshannon.
“Traditionally, the toilets were open from the May Bank Holiday weekend through to early September. If we were aware of a boating event in the area outside of these times we endeavoured to facilitate that also. This was the case only a month ago in Mountshannon.  Sadly, there have been repeat incidents of graffiti in recent times, even when open; the toilets have been vandalised and misused in the past.
“The problem to date is that local authorities are no different to other sectors experiencing difficulties at this time. In East Clare alone, we are down 11 men, we have reduced budgets available to us and there are ever-increasing demands on the resources we do have. The public’s expectations are high and they quite rightly expect and deserve a quality service. This year, due to our reduced resources, the staffing of Mountshannon toilets presented us with a problem.
“The bottom line is that the person charged with the opening, maintaining and closing of the toilets doesn’t live in Mountshannon and on certain days must work elsewhere in the East Clare area.
The council considered a number of alternatives that may have resolved the issue and sought a local person to act as the key holder. That person could have at least opened and closed them.
In conclusion, any inconvenience to residents and visitors to Mountshannon last weekend is regrettable. The issue has now been resolved and the toilets will be open for the remainder of the summer,” the spokesperson stated.
Any parties interested in discussing the matter further are invited to meet with Mr Lenihan at the Scariff Area office.

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