Call for free sanitary products in Council buildings

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Cllr Elisa O'Donovan, Social Democrats. Photo: Cian Reinhardt

SOCIAL Democrats councillor Elisa O’Donovan has called on the local authority to explore the provision of free sanitary products in all Limerick Council buildings, including community centres, swimming pools and libraries.

At Monday’s meeting of the local authority, the City West representative said that women have an average of 507 periods in their menstrual lifetime at a cost of around €10,000 per person.

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Cllr O’Donovan also explained that 50 per cent of menstruating people aged 12 to 19 say they have experienced issues in paying for sanitary products.

“The monthly burden of purchasing sanitary products falls on half of the Limerick population and is an issue of both equality and dignity. It is easy to understand why period poverty is a very real problem issue for low-income households and young people in our city and county,” she commented.

“I am calling on Limerick Council to provide a range of free, adequate, safe and suitable sanitary products to be distributed through all public buildings. To start off with this would be in Council-owned buildings, swimming pools, libraries and community centres so as to tackle period poverty and de-stigmatise and normalise menstruation. I urge that we undergo a pilot project for this to start on International Women’s Day next year.”

Sinn Féin councillor Sharon Benson, who supported the motion, called for an amendment to be made to include emergency accommodation and homeless shelters.

Labour Party councillor Conor Sheehan pointed out that Limerick TD Jan O’Sullivan has done a lot of work on this issue at national level.

Fianna Fáil councillor Eddie Ryan wanted to know how the proposal would be funded.

“We’ve already had our budget,” he pointed out.

Cllr Kevin Sheahan (FF) was also keen to comment on the matter.

“I have no problem with this. It shows a maturing process to be thinking this way. I welcome that,” he said.

A Council spokesman explained that the issue of the provision of free sanitary products in public buildings was debated in the Oireachtas earlier this year when the Government committed to bringing forward a series of measures to address the matter.

“The Council will proceed with implementing the outcome of this process upon its completion at national level,” he said.