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“Cost is a barrier to safe sex” says USI


The Union of Students in Ireland has welcomed today’s announcement by Minister for Health Simon Harris that barriers to accessing contraception will be reviewed by a ‘rapid’ working group.


USI president Síona Cahill reacted to the news, saying:


“The Oireachtas committee on the eighth amendment was clear that access to contraception needed to be immediately reviewed, particularly regarding cost.


Students as a cohort have already been failed by a lack of sexual health education at post-primary level, and we are still being failed when it comes to actual access to contraceptives, and cost is most certainly a barrier.”


The USI believes that the ability to choose contraception is imperative for all students and those who are sexually active. Siona continued:


“What is imperative here is the ability for people to choose and be comfortable with the best methods of contraception for them, without cost as a hurdle to that decision making.


We are are calling on the Government to look beyond just condoms and the pill with this review, and to look at long acting reversible contraception as a matter of urgency. The upfront cost to such contraception is prohibitive for students in particular. LARCs are effective up to 10 years depending on the method and 99% effective as a safe method.”


The Union of Students in Ireland have for over two decades led a ‘Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance’ (SHAG) campaign on campuses, promoting safe sex and the use of contraception on campuses across Ireland.



  • USI represents over 374,000 students at third level and further education across Ireland
  • USI’s ‘SHAG’ campaign is supported by the HSE, and this year 30,000 condoms were delivered to students on campuses across Ireland, including information on safe sex, consent and support for unplanned pregnancies, including the HSE ‘My Options’ helpline.
  • Prices for the pill per month mostly range from €5 to €8 rising to €14.50. One of the biggest cost issues is that long acting reversible contraception, such as implants, patches, IUDs, etc which are the most effective are more expensive.
  • Emergency contraception is also a significant cost for students.
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