CORK City councillors have voted in favour of a motion calling for free sanitary products to be provided in all Cork City Council buildings.
In a joint motion, submitted by Fianna Fáil councillor John Sheehan, who is also a GP, and co-signed by his party colleague councillor Mary Rose Desmond, Independent councillor Lorna Bogue, and Sinn Féin councillor Fiona Kerins, it stated: “In view of the fact that Irish women and girls spend an average of €132 every year on tampons and sanitary towels, that Cork City Council would follow other cities in providing free sanitary products in its buildings and would work to facilitate drop off points to allow people to donate sanitary products for vulnerable groups.”
The motion also said Cork City Council should call on the Government “to provide support to allow tampons and sanitary products to be accessible to vulnerable groups such as the homeless and asylum seekers”.
Speaking at the full council meeting held earlier this week, Ms Desmond thanked her party colleague for putting the motion together, which she said was “very worthwhile”.
“I’m delighted that the programme for government includes dealing with and addressing period poverty across the country and I know that we will need that as a council with regards to supporting this motion here today and actually having it rolled out properly with regards to public buildings and access to products,” she said.
Mr Sheehan said there is a major need to destigmatise issues such as period poverty.
“We really need to bring discussions like this out into the open in terms of language and in terms of taking away that stigma and approach these matters in a very pragmatic and open way,” he said.
The motion came as a report by the Period Poverty Sub-committee under the National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017–2020, found that up to 85,000 individuals around the country may be at risk of period poverty.
“Targeted measures for certain high-risk groups, including those experiencing active addiction, the homeless and those in long-term accommodation, may be justified on the basis of existing evidence,” it said, outlining one of its recommendations.
Speaking about the report, Solidarity councillor Fiona Ryan said this was a “completely obvious conclusion” that should be addressed urgently. She supported the motion before council, saying it was a “very positive step and a very easy thing that the council can do concretely to help a section of people who are vulnerable to period poverty”.