Bio-ethics group’s funding terminated

IRELAND is set to become the only EU country to have no bio-ethics advisory group, after funding was removed completely from the national expert body.

Just two days after a landmark Supreme Court ruling found that frozen embryos have no right to life, the Irish Council for Bio-ethics, which provides expert advice on the issue, has confirmed its funding will be terminated from December 31.

The controversial decision – which was made after officials from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment put forward the option to remove the body earlier this year to An Bord Snip Nua – will officially save €365,000. However, in reality this figure will be significantly lower as the majority of full-time and part-time staff will be re-assigned to other areas. And while no expert of the independent body who sits on European advisory groups will lose their international position because of the decision, it still means that from New Year’s Day Ireland will be the only EU country to have no national advisory group on bio-ethics.

Since it was established in 2002, the Irish Council for Bio-ethics has received more than €2 million in funding.

It has used this budget to provide expert ethical advice on issues such as stem cell research, healthcare during a pandemic and the use of forensic DNA databases.

Reacting to the announcement, Dr Siobhán O Sullivan, director of the Irish Council for Bio-ethics, said:

“You would really want to question the wisdom of shutting down such a body in light of the Supreme Court ruling this week.”


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