More outdoor facilities will drive crowds – DCC

The Director of City Recovery with Dublin City Council has said if more facilities such as toilets and bins are provided in Dublin and other city locations, then more crowds will be driven to those areas.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Cóilín O’Reilly said there are two very separate issues: toilets and bins, and public health guidelines.

He said the local authority is keen to facilitate an outdoors summer and does not want to close streets.

He was speaking after crowds were seen gathering in a number of locations in cities around the country at the wekeend, including on Dublin’s South William Street.

Mr O’Reilly said people who gathered in the city centre were not doing what the Government has asked, and that thousands of people enjoyed public spaces over the weekend with no issues.

He said he believes measures can be put in place to prevent similar crowds to those seen on South William Street gathering for the upcoming Bank Holiday weekend.

Mr O’Reilly also said it took a crew of around seven people four hours to clean up the mess from Saturday night.

Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht Jack Chambers said the return of outdoor dining and outdoor seating from June should provide additional ‘formal space’ for people to meet and limit the excessive congregation of people in city streets and parks.

Mr Chambers told the same programme that he shares the concerns and frustrations of Dublin city businesses and authorities in relation to crowds gathering and the “absolute risk” involved, as well as the disruption and mess caused.

He welcomed the engagement between Dublin City Council and An Garda Síochána to put a plan in place to deal with large crowds gathering and the provision of more bins and toilets in the capital.

Mr Chambers said it is important that people have outdoor spaces for socialising or physical activity and shutting down could parks or other areas could drive people indoors.

He said tens of thousands of young and older people met in compliance outdoors in recent days.

He said that authorities need to be more creative with the provision of facilities and amenities and this will be for the long-term benefit of communities.

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Landlord for Georges Street Arcade Gwen Layden said pubs selling takeaway drinks significantly contributed to the scenes in Dublin city centre at the weekend.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime, Ms Layden called for moderation in the approach taken by publicans.

She explained that a business owner in the arcade, who she said normally sells a glass of wine with cheese, decided not to sell wine as she felt she was contributing to the problem.

The Head of the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association has said bringing forward the date for outdoor dining would be the sensible thing to do.

Speaking on the same programme Vincent Jennings said “if you’ve got a pressure cooker, you remove the pressure and bringing the restaurants forward by a couple of days would be a very, very smart thing to do”.

Mr Jennings said people would be sitting on seats and at a table, rather than sitting on pavements, adding this would provide an element of control.

He said it is time for Dublin City Council to organise itself and provide more facilities to manage outdoor dining, adding they’ve had 15 months to do this. He said there’s a need for more bins, especially smart bins.

Meanwhile the CEO of DublinTown, which represents businesses in Dublin city centre, said he would like to see plans for outdoor drinking and dining to be brought in sooner than next Monday.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Richard Guiney said: “If there was an opportunity to bring it in for the full weekend, I think that would certainly assist us.”

Mr Guiney also said there was a need to look at a temporary change in licensing laws that allows for patrons to be accommodated within a particular space to consume alcohol, which will identify those who are turning up with off-licence alcohol.

He said the issue of people arriving into the city with alcohol needs to be addressed, similar to on-street drinking associated with St Patrick’s Day, which, he said, had been “addressed in a very constructive fashion”.

The message to people is that this is an outdoor summer, he said, adding that people turned up in the city in larger numbers than had been anticipated.

“We need to treat people with maturity, provide them with public toilets, provide them with public seating”.

Mr Guiney said there is a need to look at the communication from the Government, through Dublin City Council and the business community, so there is a better coordinating of the message.

People urged to bring rubbish with them

Hazel Chu, Dublin Lord Mayor and Green Party councillor for Dublin City Council, said that people need to take personal responsibility for gathering outdoors and take care not to leave a mess behind them.

However, she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that “we can’t tell people not to gather” because we have been advertising for a summer outdoors.

Hazel Chu said many people do not have gardens and safe spaces need to be prepared where people can gather.

She said that Dublin City Council has done a lot of preparation but “we still need across the board more seating, more bins, more toilet facilities, increase in gardaí”.

She said that she will speak to the city recovery taskforce about the issues.

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