PROPOSALS to buy a derelict building in Ennistymon, install public toilets in it and hire a year-round caretaker to maintain it have been ruled out because Clare County Council is not flush with money.
Fine Gael Councillor Bill Slattery told a recent area meeting that business people are not happy with people doing their business without spending a penny.
Council Slattery asked Clare County Council to provide public toilets in Ennistymon “as a matter of urgency, either by upgrading the existing toilets, which are closed, or alternatively provide new toilets at a different location”.
He said, “Certain publicans are annoyed that some people were going into the pub, doing their business and walking out and saying ‘thank you very much’ or in many cases not saying it”.
Councillor Richard Nagle recalled, “A Superloo was sanctioned for the town 12 or 13 years ago but it proved impossible to find a suitable site that was accessible but a solution would be for the county council to purchase a building and put in toilets there”.
“There are plenty of derelict buildings in Ennistymon that could be bought cheaply if that was pursued,” he argued.
Councillor Michael Hillery pointed out that Miltown Malbay is in a similar situation and pubs and restaurants provide the service there.
“Where Superloos are in place, it costs an astronomical figure every year to maintain them,” he said.
Stephen Lahiffe, senior executive engineer in the Ennistymon Area Office, told the meeting it is unlikely that the council would buy a building, as it doesn’t have the money.
“There have been a number of notices of motion with regard to the provision of public toilets at Ennistymon in the past. Clare County Council would be favourably disposed to the provision of public toilets at Ennistymon. However, in the present economic climate, it is not possible to provide funding for property acquisition, construction of toilets and their maintenance. The site of the original toilets is not suitable on health and safety grounds,” he said.
Mayor of Clare and North Clare Councillor Joe Arkins suggested that rather than flushing money down the toilet trying to procure a location, the possibility of using existing facilities should be considered.
“I wonder if we looked for an expression of interest from the private sector, whether restaurants or bars, if someone would have a toilet already that is open to the public and the council would pay an amount for that service,” he said.
Councillor Arkins said toilet facilities in Kilfenora were provided by the Burren Centre, while in Lahinch Seaworld did the same. He requested a costing on toilet maintenance and cleaning.
“We should look for an expression of interest from people with buildings that have the facilities,” he said.
Councillor Slattery told the meeting that business people in Fanore are also calling for the public toilets there to be open throughout the year. Mr Lahiffe explained that extending the amount of time the facilities are open has cost implications for the council. Councillor Slattery said people in the area are willing to maintain the toilets if the council opens them before Easter. Mr Lahiffe said the council would consider this if it received a proposal in relation to it.