Should the public toilets be allowed to remain open all night - especially at weekends - in Mid Ulster’s main towns to facilitate revellers?
Magherafelt solicitor Stephen Atherton believes that they should and that the District Council has a duty to provide “sanitary facilities.”
He pointed out that he and other lawyers have to represent people of otherwise good character when they get brought before the court.
“People of good character are being unnecessarily criminalised because they have nowhere to go once the pubs close,” he said.
“In the absence of sanitary facilities the council has a duty to patrons and licensed owners to provide toilets in the early hours of the morning. No blame on licensed owners who are obeying the licensing laws, or patrons.”
Mr Atherton, of John J. McNally & Co, explained that many patrons have to wait for two hours for a taxi after leaving the pubs as there is a small pool of taxi drivers operating.
“When people are taken to court they are having their reputations damaged, and being charged with indecent behaviour has a stigma attached which could impact on their future careers, so it is a serious issue which needs to be looked at.”
He explained that there is a difference between indecent behaviour and indecent exposure, but this can some times be lost on less discerning members of the public. Mr Atherton claimed the present situation was unacceptable.
“At present people are having to use doorways and entries as urinals and this has to be unacceptable to everyone wishing to promote the town,” he continued.
He said the toilets should be kept open all night and the police on night patrol could make checks on them to ensure they are not vandalised.
A spokesperson for Mid Ulster Council said: “Leaving toilets open and unattended through the night, even if the location was to be included on routine police patrols, is likely to result in vandalism and anti-social behaviour.”