From the comfort of a couple of picnic benches and large wooden logs, parents watched as their kids darted around the playground in Sean Moore Park in Irishtown last Friday.

They avoided sitting on one log, though. It was charred from a fire that broke out inside the play area on the night of 27 June.

The fire was the second to happen in the playground, says Sinn Féin Councillor Daniel Céitinn.

It has highlighted the need to clamp down on such instances of anti-social behaviour in the area, he said. “We need to provide extra amenities to bring people into that space.”

Like, he says, a long-promised container café and public toilet, which has been planned for just east of the playground.

Dublin City Council first put out a tender for a contractor for that – and other similar facilities around the city – in May 2021.

But the Ringsend toilet and cafe stalled after the original contractor pulled out when the location was deemed unviable due to the cost of installing the utilities, the council’s south-east area manager said last October.

Now, the timeline is for the container café and public toilets to be in place by the second quarter of 2024, a council press spokesperson says.

Two years ago

More than two years ago, in April 2021, council officials committed to providing a public toilet and takeaway coffee dock in each of the council’s five administrative areas.

Each area was given €40,000 for these projects from a central government pot of €6.1 million, meant to compensate the council for lost revenue from rates, and extra spending due to Covid-19.

It was part of the council’s Covid recovery plan for building back up after the impact of the pandemic, says Green Party Councillor Claire Byrne. “They were looking at licensed cafes that would have toilets attached to them, which were the trader’s responsibility.”

A charred log in Sean Moore Park. Credit: Michael Lanigan

In May 2021, the council’s Office of City Recovery tendered for contractors who could provide these across the city.

Designs for the container café and toilets in Sean Moore Park include a small indoor seating area alongside an outdoor seating terrace, with toilets and baby-changing facilities, said a report to area councillors that same month.

The pace of the roll out has frustrated councillors in other areas too, prompting them to question whether linking public toilets to kiosks was necessary.

Then in October 2022, Byrne asked about the lack of progress in Sean Moore Park.

The South East Area manager said in a written response that: “The location agreed by parks for the unit was found to be unviable for the contractor based on the costs quoted to install the relevant utilities required to operate the unit.”

“The tender has been cancelled,” it said.

The project has since been handed from the Office of City Recovery to the Parks Department, the response said, adding that it would take between 9 and 12 months for the utilities to be in place and to run the competition to find a concessionaire to run it all.

It also said, though: “We have no timescale at the moment on the delivery date for this project.”

Byrne says she had expected it would all be open this summer. “Here we are, and I’m still being told that it’s an unserviced site.”

Another Year?

On 10 July, a council spokesperson said that the next step with the site is for a consultant, who has been hired, to assess the feasibility of providing water, power and sewer connections to it.

If it is feasible, the council expects to issue a tender for those works in the autumn, they said. “Which will be completed over the winter.”

“If there is no unforeseen delays, the site will then be ready for the container café and public toilets, likely to be in place by the second quarter of 2024,” they said.

The closest public toilets to the playground in Sean Moore Park are 900 metres away in Irishtown stadium, and beside the Martello Tower on Sandymount Strand, 1.2 kilometres away, according to Google Maps.

Sean Moore Park playground. Credit: Michael Lanigan

Ringsend local Karen Saunders says Sean Moore Park gets a lot of footfall and having a toilet in the area would be ideal. “Also, we have Enable Ireland which brings kids down to the beach.”

A spokesperson for the disability service Enable Ireland said any additional community resources suitable for all children in the community would be welcomed.

Access to toilets is a basic right, says Byrne, the Green Party councillor. “For anyone, particularly if you have a disability, or when it comes to playgrounds and you’re a parent.”

“I want to be able to go to a park or playground with my kids for a significant amount of time when the weather is particularly good, and not have to worry about getting caught out,” she says.

Michael Lanigan is a freelance journalist who covers arts and culture for Dublin Inquirer. His work also appears in Vice, Totally Dublin, and the Business Post. You can reach him at

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