In April, the plight of the late Czech national, Josef Pavelka, 52, and his Polish friend, Piotr Baram, 36, received national attention when a judge described as a national scandal the pair living in public toilets in Ennis.
Mr Pavelka died last month in a laneway off Ennis’s O’Connell St and the place where his body was found has since been named by his friends as “Pavelka Place”.
At the Ennis Town Council’s June meeting, town manager Ger Dollard confirmed it costs the local council €70,000 yearly to retain the two public toilets provided by a private firm.
In relation to the attention focused on the use of the facilities by the two homeless men, Mr Dollard said: “The council has met with the maintenance contractors for the unit and is satisfied the features in place are robust.
“I have listened to the alarm siren and am happy it can be heard externally. We have asked the company to look at a visual, external, alert mechanism to signal any potential deliberate interference with the operating mechanism. There is no cost to the council.”
He said: “This was part of a routine review in the light of the extensive media coverage alleging people were sleeping in the toilet for which the council has no knowledge or evidence.”
Labour councillor Paul O’Shea said the €70,000 spend represented an extraordinary amount of money and Ennis would be better served providing alternative public toilets.
Cllr O’Shea said the council should carry out a feasibility study into the possibility of constructing its own public toilets.
He said: “We are in deep recession here — we can’t continue to pay €70,000 on two superloos.”
Ennis mayor, Cllr Peter Considine (FF), said: “The old toilets that were there before the superloos were a disgrace and couldn’t be used by anyone. The toilets that are there now are perfectly well-used.”
Mr Dollard added: “If we built our own public toilets, you would need staff to maintain them and you wouldn’t be able to do it on a 24-hour basis.
“The reality is the old toilets just didn’t work. The public expect a high standard with public toilets and that is being achieved and I don’t think we could do it any cheaper. What we have is good value for money.”