Irish bioethics council to shut doors

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

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