Calls for free period products in NI schools

The Stormont education minister has been urged to ensure the supply of free period products in schools.

Stormont education committee chair Chris Lyttle presented a petition signed by almost 5,000 people backing the call to the Assembly on Tuesday.

He said he was submitting the petition on behalf of Homeless Period Belfast, urging the move to alleviate period poverty and bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK.

The Alliance Party MLA said it is unacceptable that many young girls are unable to access period products, which he said led to "anxiety, health issues and disruption to their education".

Addressing the Assembly, he pointed out schools provide toilet roll, hand soap and hand towels in toilets, and said period products should be no different.

He urged Education Minister Peter Weir to act over the matter.

"The Education Committee has backed the call for free period products to be made available in schools, made by a number of organisations, who have all shown leadership on this matter," he said.

"I hope the minister considers this petition and listens to those who have long campaigned on this issue."

Katrina McDonnell, project manager of the Homeless Period Belfast, said no young woman's education should be disrupted by their period.

"Research shows the vast majority of schoolgirls have had their education disrupted by a lack of access to period products," she said.

"Now, more than ever, a free period products scheme in schools would relieve the financial pressure on parents and students to purchase them.

"Free period products in schools will ensure every young person can learn and be their very best, without the worry of their next pad or tampon holding them back."