Government proposes giving out free condoms in colleges and pubs
The Government is exploring options for providing free contraception as part of efforts to reduce the number of crisis pregnancies.
One option being considered is for the HSE to provide free condoms in vending machines in universities and pubs.
Increasing access to contraception was a key recommendation of the Oireachtas committee that examined Ireland's abortion laws ahead of last year's referendum, which saw the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.
Health Minister Simon Harris has now set out the terms of reference for the Department of Health working group, which will examine removing cost barriers for accessing contraception. He is to brief ministerial colleagues on the issue at a special Cabinet meeting on gender issues on Friday.
The working group is to determine the extent that cost is a barrier to accessing contraception, and if other factors need to be addressed.
"This work will take a number of months to complete but it will deliver a clear pathway forward," Mr Harris said.
"Cost should not be a barrier to accessing contraception and I am determined to address this.
"The benefits are clear. This will help to reduce the number of crisis pregnancies and promotes good sexual health.
"I look forward to receiving the outcome of this work later this year."