Changing Places: Conor Murphy pledges new regulations for better toilet facilities

Interior of a changing places toilet facilityImage copyright
Muscular Dystrophy UK

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All shopping centres, supermarkets, sports and arts venues will have to have at least one changing place from 2021

Finance Minister Conor Murphy has pledged to make large accessible toilets for severely disabled people mandatory for new buildings in NI.

Known as Changing Places, the facilities include changing benches, hoists, privacy screens and space for two carers.

It follows a similar move in England.

The Department of Finance said the minister is committed to amending building regulations as soon as possible.

“Work is underway to make the necessary changes to the technical guidance of the regulations to make Changing Places Toilets a requirement in new buildings that meet the criteria,” the department added.

Some councils in Northern Ireland have no Changing Places within their public facilities.

Mr Murphy told the Northern Ireland Assembly on Monday that the development marks an important step in dignity and equality for all.

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Christine McClements said several thousand people and their carers will benefit from the changing places

Campaigner Christine McClements, whose daughter has a severe disability, has been appointed to the technical working group.

She told BBC News NI she was “thrilled” by the announcement and that it “will make the biggest difference to the lives of severely disabled people, also their carers and their family members”.

Current facilities “curtail” what disabled people and their carers can do, she added, including how far they can travel.

“To have the same safe, dignified, convenient toileting arrangements that everybody else enjoys is just going to be huge.”

BBC News