Belfast council is urged to review city centre toilet facilities
Belfast City Council has been urged to review the number of late-night toilet facilities available in the city centre.
Colin Neill is head of Hospitality Ulster, the body which represents the pub and hotel trade in Northern Ireland, and said the current options for customers enjoying Belfast nightlife were lacking.
He made the comments after this newspaper revealed that Lord Mayor John Finucane was cautioned for public urination after being "caught short" following a social function.
Belfast City Council currently operates 14 public toilets, including six in central Belfast of which three are open 24 hours a day - Custom House Square, Lombard Street and Bankmore Square.
Pop-up urinals are also installed for late night use at Shaftesbury Square just outside the city centre, but are currently out of service due to maintenance work.
"It's an important issue. I think that if people waiting for buses or taxis are still having to go in the street, albeit discreetly, it shows the provision isn't there," Mr Neill said.
"I feel for the Lord Mayor because if you're caught short, you're caught short, and I'm sure he was trying to be as discreet as possible.
"If there isn't the public convenience there what do you do?"
He added: "It's one of those things where public urination is something we've got used to so we just put up with it.
"It's only when incidents like this occur that people ask: 'Why aren't there more toilets open?'
"Just saying they will get vandalised isn't enough. We should ask what do we do to stop this.
"These aren't people that are vandals urinating in a letterbox, these are people who have a call of nature. As a modern city, and indeed right across the province, if there's an evening economy we should be providing for it.
"The pub and hotel sector pay far higher rates than shops, but their customers don't have the same services provided for them.
"The council should definitely review the situation."
A spokesperson for Belfast City Council said: "Any decision around reviewing/changing the hours (of public toilets) would be a matter for elected members."
People Before Profit councillor Michael Collins is chair of the people and communities committee.
"We definitely need accessible toilet facilities in Belfast City Centre, so it would certainly be something we would promote if an issue was brought to the committee," he said.
"We have a heavy footfall in the town and another thing we'd be keen to see is water fountains in the city centre so people can refill drinking bottles."