Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Mary Linehan Foley with Cork County Council Chief Executive Tim Lucey and Clodagh Meade, Cork County Council Litter Warden, at the launch of a new anti-litter campaign encouraging everyone to dispose of their rubbish responsibly or take it home. Photo: Cathal Noonan

30 minute queues for toilets ‘not good enough’

A Cork County Councillor has described how three pregnant women were unable to use toilet facilities in Crosshaven recently amid calls for major improvements to Cork’s outdoor spaces.

Cllr Audrey Buckley (FF) was speaking in firm support of a motion put forward by Green Party Cllr Liam Quaide demanding immediate action be taken to protect and maintain public spaces ahead of what is expected to be an extremely busy holiday season in Cork.

Cllr Quaide said more outdoor staffing and increased engagement with local businesses, particularly those which contribute to waste generation such as takeaways and shops, is now urgently required.He also asked for a plan be published by each municipal district on the provision of public toilets in busy tourist spots, including beaches.

Cllr Quaide said the lack of public toilets is a major inconvenience in many busy parts of the county.

He said: “I was emailed by a woman who said she visited Youghal yesterday with her three children. She said there was a 30 minute queue for the ladies, only one toilet out of three was operational and there was no toilet paper or hand sanitizer provided.”

His comments come as prolonged good weather and the lifting of the 5km travel restriction has led to many beaches and coastal areas receiving unusually high numbers of visitors.

In a written response to Cllr Quaide’s motion, Director of Service, Municipal District & Operational Niall Healy said the council already commits massive resources to emptying street bins.

He said the council’s view is that a high degree of personal responsibility needs to be borne by individual consumers.

According to Mr Healy, the council now proposes to embark on a public awareness campaign to highlight the issue.

“The consumer needs to understand that littering is an offence,” he added.

Turning to public toilets, Mr Healy said there are currently 61 such facilities at various locations around the county, the majority of which are open.

He said the county council will endeavour to make available some of the public offices toilet facilities, such as public libraries, available for wider public use.

Mr Healy’s response also referred to Project Act, a series of measures designed to improve towns and villages around the county, as a means to combat the issues of public toilets and litter.

However, Cllr Audrey Buckley argued that Project Act does not cover smaller villages and coastal areas and that the situation is simply “not good enough”.

“I can't go walking at the weekends because of the abuse I'm getting,” she said.