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Matthews welcomes progress from Changing Places Departmental Working Group

Date: 30 September 2021

Green Party TD, Deputy Steven Matthews was speaking following a reply he received from Minister Darragh O’Brien to a parliamentary question confirming that following 6 in depth meetings of the Changing Places working group in recent months and a series of subcommittee meetings, draft building regulations which will support a public consultation on the issue will be published by the end of the year.

A changing places toilet offers larger supported facilities that address the needs of people for whom current accessible sanitary accommodation is inadequate. These facilities enable people with complex care needs to take part in everyday activities such as travel, shopping, family days out or attending a sporting event. Discussing the news, Deputy Matthews said:

“This is an issue I first brought up in the Dáil late last year following a series of meetings with a local group of carers and supporters who are pushing for these facilities for people who need them. At the time, I welcomed the urgent action taken by my party colleague, Minister Malcolm Noonan in setting up a departmental working group that includes a wide variety of organisations including the HSE, the Office of Public Works and Changing Places Ireland, the charity behind the campaign at a national level. These groups are working in a collaborative way to amend existing building regulations. As is often the case, the legislation in this area is complex and the working group includes represantatives from the construction and legal sectors to work through any legal hurdles.

“After 6 meetings so far this year, the working group is making positive progress and a report and draft amendments to the existing legislation are in progress which will offer the basis for a public consultation by the end of the year. I look forward to continuing to work with Changing Places and the Minister on this issue because at the heart of it, this work is about improving the lives of carers and those who require these facilities and offering basic dignity that will provide publicly accessible toilets that meet their needs.

“On a local level, I provided this update to and look forward to meeting again with the local branch of the organisation representing families/ individuals that need these facilities. I also look forward to continuing my engagement with the Sub Committee on Changing Places that is part of Wicklow County Council’s Inclusion and Disability Committee. Getting these new regulations across the line and put in practice is a slow process but fundamentally important and worthwhile.

“Ultimately, I am working towards ensuring that the legislation is amended at a national level so that it won’t be down to local councilors or politicians to advocate for changing places to be included in public building plans, it will be a basic minimum requirement, concluded Deputy Matthews.



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