Unacceptable that there are only 15 Changing Place toilets in Ireland – Progress needed on Changing Places initiative

Senator Mark Wall
10 December 2020
  • Decision to set up a working group welcome but group must report back with their findings soon

Kildare South based Labour Senator Mark Wall has said we need to see progress from the Department of Housing on the Changing Places in public buildings initiative.

Senator Wall secured a commencement matter in the Seanad this week where the Minister for Housing confirmed the establishment of a Working Group and that he has written to several stakeholders to invite their organisations to participate in the group.

Senator Wall said:

“In Ireland there are only approximately 15 changing place toilets, there are over 1500 in England and in the UK, they have introduced legislation making changing place toilets mandatory in new public buildings from 2021. Across the border there are 40 in Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland assembly has given a commitment to amend their regulations to do the same.

“There is an online campaign with over 7,000 signatures asking the Irish Government to change the Irish building regulations to ensure that changing place toilet facilities are mandatory in all new public buildings.

“This is a quality of life issue for families whose loved ones need changing or assistance with the very basics of human need.  I am aware of several families who simply cannot use the current facilities on offer in this country as their children, their loved ones have grown into young adults and the small baby table currently in these facilities are simply not good enough. These families are forced to change their children in the back of their cars or on the cold floor of a disabled toilet.

“We are so far behind other countries that we have a lot of catching up to do. I am aware that the Minister is going to set up a Working Group to progress this matter and I welcome that but we need to see progress on this issue and I would strongly urge the Minister to provide the Working Group with a deadline before which they should report their findings.

“This issue directly affects the quality of life of so many families, it prevents them from planning for the days out that so many of us still hold dear and treasure the family memories that were made on these occasions. The back seat of the car should belong in a by gone era, the cold floor of a small changing room should be a distant memory, it’s time we gave these young children and adults back their dignity and included their needs, desire and wishes in all new public buildings.

Senator Wall continued:

“I welcome the Ministers commitment to establishing a Working Group to examine this issue but I would caution that the Working Group cannot become a can kicking exercise and take an indefinite amount of time to examine this issue. The Minister must ensure it reports back in a timely fashion. These struggling families cannot be forced to wait indefinitely.

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