Northern Ireland news

Stormont to consider providing free sanitary products at Parliament Buildings

The Assembly Commission said the feasibility of a pilot scheme at Parliament Buildings will be assessed
By Rebecca Black, Press Association

Stormont is set to consider making sanitary products freely available at Parliament Buildings in a pilot scheme.

It follows a request from West Tyrone Sinn Féin MLA Catherine Kelly to highlight the issue of period poverty.

She asked the Assembly Commission to address the issue by making sanitary products freely available in visitors' toilets at Parliament Buildings.

In response to Ms Kelly's Assembly Question, she was told that the feasibility of a pilot scheme would be assessed.

"The Assembly Commission has not previously considered the free provision of sanitary products to students and other visitors to Parliament Buildings," the response read.

"However, the Assembly Commission will now assess the feasibility of the free provision of sanitary products on a pilot basis."

Ms Kelly welcomed the move.

"I raised the issue of providing free sanitary products in the visitors toilets at Parliament Buildings given the number of schools and visitors that regularly visit Stormont," she said.

"I welcome news that the Assembly Commission are going to carry out a feasibility assessment with the view of providing them on a pilot basis.

"Many women and girls are struggling with the rising costs of sanitary products and Stormont, as well as other public bodies, can play their part in reducing this pressure."

In 2018 the Scottish Parliament announced that all women, whether visiting or working at Holyrood, would have access to free towels or tampons.

In the same year Derry and Strabane District Council became the first local authority in Northern Ireland to offer products in some of its public buildings.

Free sanitary products are also made available at schools in England, Scotland and Wales.

Research published by the charity Plan International in 2017 indicated that one in 10 girls between the ages of 14 and 21 in the UK have been unable to afford sanitary products, while 49 per cent have missed an entire day of school because of their period.

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