Demand for condoms ‘greatly in excess’ of expectations, 1983 papers show
Seven licences for the importation of condoms were issued to pharmacists after family planning law was passed
Contraception campaigners in 1971. The sale of condoms was first permitted, in limited circumstances, in 1980.
A report to government said demand for condoms was “greatly in excess” of what pharmacists had expected when the law to allow them to be sold in Ireland
The Health (Family Planning) Act 1979, which was enacted in November 1980, legalised contraception in Ireland, but only by prescription.
A note in Department of the Taoiseach files written seven weeks after the introduction of the family planning legislation said that while it was not possible to be specific about the extent to which contraceptives were being supplied through pharmacies, seven licences had been issued for the importation of condoms.
One of the early licence applicants had subsequently applied for a further licence to import increased quantities “since the demand from pharmacists for contraceptives was greatly in excess of the requirements they had indicated six weeks before the Act commenced”.
The law on contraception was changed in 1985 by the Health (Family Planning)(Amendment) Act, enacted by the then minister for health Barry Desmond. This Act allowed for the sale of condoms and spermicides without a prescription to people aged 18 and over, although sales were confined to chemists, doctors’ surgeries, health boards, family planning clinics and hospitals.