Pregnant mum angry after toilet is refused

Elaine Douglas who was refused access to toilet facilities in the benefits office in Jervis Street in Portadown. INPT1315-410

Elaine Douglas who was refused access to toilet facilities in the benefits office in Jervis Street in Portadown. INPT1315-410

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A woman who is six months pregnant said she was disgusted after she was refused access to a toilet in Portadown’s Jobs and Benefits office.

Elaine Douglas had gone to the office last Friday morning and, during her wait, asked to use the toilet.

However, she was told that it wasn’t open to the public - despite further requests on her behalf by her partner and a DUP councillor.

In desperation, she walked to a nearby newsagent’s and asked to use their bathroom, where the shopkeeper duly obliged.

She said, “My partner spoke to a manager and he said the toilet had been wrecked last year and the public weren’t allowed to use it now. He phoned the DUP as well and a councillor spoke to the manager too but they still wouldn’t let me use it.

“I am six months into a high risk pregnancy. I lost my wee boy at 20 weeks last year.

“I just needed a minute to use the toilet. They could see I was pregnant.”

DUP councillor Robert Smith, who spoke to a manager at the Jobs and Benefits office, said the incident raised questions as it was a public building.

He said, “I was told there is no public toilet in the building, and that they wouldn’t make an exception. The employee toilet used to be available but it seems there was some sort of incident and now there is a policy of not allowing access to the employee area, which is where the toilet is situated.

“There are people who go to the Jobs and Benefits office and have to wait a long time. In this case the lady was pregnant. There may be other people too, with disabilities, who also need access to a toilet while they are there.

“This is something the Department of Social Development needs to look at. It’s a public building which is used by a lot of people every day. The public toilets in town are too far away - it wouldn’t be practical for people to leave the office and then go back again, without risking missing their appointment slot.”

The Portadown Times contacted the Department of Social Development for a response but none had been received at the time of going to press.

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