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28 Jan 2022

Offaly County Council considers providing free sanitary products in public buildings

Offaly County Council considers providing free sanitary products in public buildings

OCC to investigate idea of providing free sanitary products in public buildings

Offaly County Council will explore recommendations relating to the options for the provision of free, safe and suitable sanitary products in public buildings.

Proposing a motion calling the local authority to provide free products in public buildings on a trial basis, Cllr Claffey explained that it would make a “huge difference” to the lives of women and would give everyone a chance of “period dignity” and will allow people to be treated with “dignity and equality”.

“Periods are normal. 50 per cent of the population are women and most of us have periods and having access to sanitary towels and tampons is as essential as hand soap and toilet roll. We go into public toilets and we expect toilet roll and the same should be said for sanitary towels and tampons.”

According to the Banagher based councillor, most local authorities in Europe are leading the way in this.

“In Ireland, Dublin and Kildare councils are also doing the same thing. Some people can't afford to buy period productions. I think that up to 85,000 women in Ireland are at risk of period poverty. Women can also get caught out. I note  Lidl announcing free products in-store and they are donating products to Simon Community so people can access productions. This fantastic to see I would love to see the council do the same. I would ask if this could be done on a trial and budget with a long term goal to provide them free of charge."

Responding to the motion, Sharon Kennedy, Director of Services said the council was going to explore recommendations of the Report on Period Poverty, which was published by two Government departments in February last and in particular the recommendations, which were most relevant to local authorities. 

“This refers to investigating the options for the provision of products across public buildings and sites. This requires a level of resources with regard to the cost implications and this will assist in estimating budgetary requirements in advance of the 2022 budget process.”

The Director of Services understood that Dublin Council were leading the way on this issue and Offaly County Council would try and garner some information from this process.

“However, there is no budget provision in 2021 for a trial but we will investigate if this is possible and what alternative funding streams are available to fund this,” Ms Kennedy added.

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