Practices in other countries are set to be studied ahead of possible implementation. 

Minister for Health Simon Harris will today announce the establishment of a working group to examine ways of removing cost barriers to accessing contraception. 

The group will examine a number of barriers restricting the pill for women in Ireland including cost, legislative barriers, regulatory issues, and contractual issues. 

It's hoped that new measures will reduce the number of crisis pregnancies and promote good sexual health.

The Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment – whose recommendations led to a referendum to remove the constitutional ban on abortion last year – also made a number of other recommendations on reproductive health.

These included that contraception should be free of charge.

The group will also look at practices implemented in other countries to see if legal or licensing issues in Ireland would have to be addressed.

It is expected the group will make recommendations to the minister in the autumn. 

As it stands, women who have a medical card can access contraception for free. However, those that do not often have to pay for an initial doctor’s consultation as well as a repeat appointment every six months or so in order to get their prescription renewed. 

Women also have to pay for the pill every month or for their chosen contraceptive device, such as the implant or the coil. 

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