The day we were arrested for selling condoms in Dublin
By Richard Branson –
Nov 19, 2012
When we were asked by the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) if we would let them sell condoms in our Dublin Virgin Megastore, we were happy to oblige. In May 1990 the IFPA were convicted for selling condoms in the Megastore and fined £400.
The IFPA appealed the conviction on Valentine’s Day 1991 and I testified on their behalf. On arriving late in Dublin, a policeman offered me an escort – and was shocked when I directed him straight to court! The judge increased the fine to £500 and warned future infringement could result in imprisonment. A certain rock band known as U2 stepped in to pay the fine.
It wasn’t until 1993 that laws restricting the sale of condoms in Ireland were overruled, while laws banning abortion are still in place. There are lots of groups, including the IFPA, still campaigning inside and outside of Ireland for sensible abortion laws.
I remember this, I also bought condoms in there, for myself and for friends. Chemists didn’t sell them unless you had a prescription from a dr. Condom vending machines were illegal, HIV/AIDS were a fact of life and still condoms were illegal here in except under very limited guidelines.
I remember when it became possible to by them and they had to sell them to anyone over the age of legal consent, but it was still a case of running the gauntlet and getting a very unwelcome reception in the chemist. Picking one in the city center or one which family and neighbors would not use and even then you could be left standing, for years condoms were strictly behind the counter and you had to ask for them.
And even then the assistant could say they had to check with the dispensing chemist I and certainly was a few times left standing, for anything from 20mins to a half hour, as it was clear they didn’t want to sell them to me and were hoping I would just leave.
Boots chemist changed that, condoms were on the floor of the shop, you could go and read the boxes and pick out what you wanted and mix them in with other purchases, for those reason alone they quickly became the place to go buy them where ever they opened up all over the country.
These days most pubs have condom machines in them, they are more available in a range of places all over the country. Attitudes have changed as well.
It’s seen a sensible to have them and not as immoral for women have have them.
These days I know I can go an buy a 2 for 3 offer on condoms and get 3 boxes of what I fancy with no one blinking an eye lid, compared to being treated like I had just asked for the head of the baby jesus and if I hung around long enough, I would eventually get them only when exiting the chemist to hear someone declare that I must be a Whore.
It was 19 years ago, in 1993 the laws changed, took longer for attitudes to change, but I am for ever thankful for the work the IFPA have done over the years and for people like Richard Branson and those who ran the stall in the Dublin Virgin Megastore for being so brave and bold.