OUR Deputy Mayor Aodhan O’Riordain has a plan to improve the lot of Dubliners. He wants to fine people up to €500 for urinating in public and to make it an arrestable offence.
Isn’t this just great? There’s now no problem in Ireland that can’t be solved with a bit of jackboot justice from the State.
The problem of public urination is caused by one simple problem – there’s nowhere to go.
What do you do in Dublin if you are caught by a call of nature? Apart from the shopping centres, there are almost no public toilets.
It’s not just feckless drinkers who are to blame. Many elderly people have to visit the toilet regularly. City centre bus stops have no public facilities nearby. If you wanted to change a baby, you can forget it.
What does the Deputy Mayor want people to do?
There’s a whole sub culture around this. Young people will share tips about good places to go when you’re just bursting. I use to have a few locations in town stored up in my head in case of emergency.
The city’s response to anti-social behaviour has intensified the problem. New standards of street management has led to a lot of alleyways being gated while public lighting has been extended to many previously dark spots. Even vegetation has been pruned back to stop muggers from jumping out at us or to prevent cider parties.
So if you emerge from a pub late at night and you’ve forgotten to empty your bladder, you are in big trouble. Usually, you can’t back into the pub and other pubs don’t want your byproducts if they haven’t had some of your cash first.
The area around Croke Park is often instanced as an area which suffers from the problem during the championship season. But again, once you cross inside the cordon to access the stadium there are no more urinals until you enter the ground. That could take half an hour or more. Is it reasonable to expect people to hang on for that length of time?
Our schools over the past couple of years have started to encourage students to drink more water as dehydration has a negative effect on health, on behaviour and on school performance. But we haven’t provided more facilities for students to relieve themselves when they leave the schools.
I think the persecution of people who pee in public is only reasonable if they have ignored an alternative. If there is no other option then it is extreme to have someone arrested and fined 500 quid.
When concert organisers, and indeed stadium developers, are applying for planning permission they are obliged to detail how they are going to cope with toilet needs of the people they expect to turn up.
Why isn’t the City Council similarly charged? If 100,000 people are going to use the city centre at the weekend why isn’t the City Council obliged to provide facilities for them. Not only for drinkers to deal with the inevitable outcome of their entertainment but also others like parents, pregnant women, disabled people, men with prostate problems, unfortunates with a touch of Delhi Belly, and so on.
It’s a bit rich for someone from the City Council to threaten people for doing something that is fundamental to human existence when they have completely failed in their duty to provide facilities.