Northern Ireland

Period Poverty Bill to be brought to assembly

The bill aims to make period products freely available
The bill aims to make period products freely available

A BILL which would provide free period products in schools, colleges and public buildings, will progress next week.

SDLP Lagan Valley MLA Pat Catney has been working on the bill for 18 months.

A survey conducted by the SDLP last year found that 45 per cent of respondents struggled to afford or access products.

The Department for Communities will take responsibility for the legislation. The executive had not nominated a department to take ownership before it collapsed following Paul Givan's resignation as first minister.

Mr Catney had initially asked the Department of Health to take responsibility. It said that while "supporting the general direction" of the bill, the matter "falls outside of the scope" of its remit.

The Department for Communities said its minister, Deirdre Hargey, had now agreed to take the lead.

Mr Catney said he had listened to the compelling stories of women who suffered the indignity and deep distress of period poverty.

"No one should face going to school, college or work worried about not being able to afford vital health products to manage their period. That's why I have been working hard to pass legislation that would create a duty on government and public agencies to provide period products for free," he said.

"I am pleased that I will now be able to bring the bill to the assembly for its consideration stage next week. This is an example of the power of positive politics and what we can achieve when we put people first."