May 24, 2024

Irish bioethics council to shut doors

Defunded as part of budget cuts

A belt-tightening Irish government has abolished its Council for Bioethics.
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has decided to
terminate its funding in a decision which its director has criticised
as retrograde. Ireland will now be the only EU country without an
independent oversight body for bioethics, said Dr Siobhán O’Sullivan.

The Council has a budget of €365,000. It
was established in 2002 as an independent body to consider the ethical
issues arising from developments in science and medicine. Its most
recent report was “Biometrics: Enhancing Security or Invading Privacy?”

The decision was criticised by ethicists
who said that Ireland will soon face a number of difficult bioethical
questions, especially if it is trying to position itself as a
biotechnology powerhouse.

The Irish Stem Cell Foundation expressed
its regret, saying: “Given the legislative challenges facing the
Oireachtas after the recent court ruling surrounding IVF embryos and
the rights of sperm donors, it seems shortsighted to do this.” ~ Irish Times, Dec 17

Michael Cook
bioethics commissions