THE NORTHERN Ireland Assembly has today passed legislation which will make period products freely available in schools, colleges and public buildings.
The Bill was brought forward by SDLP MLA Pat Catney who said he was inspired by the work of activists and the encouragement of his daughters and grand daughters.
The passing of the Bill brings Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK.
Speaking after the Bill passed its final stage today, he said:
"This is what politics should be about and it is the whole reason I am involved in political life. Over the last two years, I have heard heartbreaking stories about young women forced to use toilet paper, cloth and newspaper as an alternative to period products because the cost is so prohibitive. As a father and a grandfather, I couldn’t bear the thought of any of our girls going through that.
"So, while I might have been thought an unlikely advocate, I have been so inspired by the passion of activists and the experience of people who have come forward to us with their story. Our new law will make period products free for anyone who needs them in school, college or in any public building. We have made a lasting difference to the lives of so many people and it is, honestly, one of the greatest achievements of my life.
"This is a huge victory for campaigners and for anyone who has ever struggled to access period products. I hope, as a result of the legislation we have passed today, that no one will have to endure the indignity of period poverty," he finished.
Later today @PatCatney will table the final stage of his free period products bill.
Working with activists like @HPeriodBelfast, Pat’s new law will make sure that period products are free in schools, colleges and all public buildings. pic.twitter.com/mGvWoWkzxP
— The SDLP (@SDLPlive) March 24, 2022
As the Bill passed its final stage at Stormont, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said period products should be available just like toilet roll.
She told MLAs: "It is about dignity, it is about normalising it, creating visibility that this isn't some dirty thing that you keep behind closed doors.
"This happens to over 50% of our population who menstruate, who have periods.
"The more that we can normalise it the better.
"I want to thank Pat for listening to your daughters, for listening to the campaigners and bringing forward this much-needed legislation which will now become enacted in law."