National Advisory Committee on Bioethics

In March 2012, the then Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly T.D. established the National Advisory Committee on Bioethics. The task of this Committee is to advise the Minister on the ethical and social implications of scientific developments in human medicine and healthcare. In particular, this includes:

  1. Providing advice in the form of expert reports on priority issues of national significance as requested by the Minister
  2. Providing recommendations and assistance towards the development of healthcare policy and associated legislation
  3. Representing Ireland at international fora on bioethics and collaborating, communicating and exchanging information with other national bioethics committees regarding developments in health policy

Bioethics serves as an important tool for making decisions about the direction and governance of science and medicine. It plays another valuable role in that it anticipates future questions of concern, encourages awareness about them and stimulates debate within all sections of society.

The National Advisory Committee on Bioethics has considered a number of complex and sensitive issues that society in general, and the healthcare system, in particular, are currently facing.

Work Programme

Nudging in Public Health – An Ethical Framework

In March 2015 the Committee was asked to explore the ethical issues relating to the use of nudging (namely the application of behavioural science to subtly guide choice in certain directions) in order to influence people’s behaviour and encourage the adoption of healthier lifestyle choices. The opinion document is entitled:

Nudging in Public Health – An Ethical Framework

Detention of Voluntary and Involuntary Patients in Mental Health Facilities

In September 2012 the Committee was asked to consider the ethical issues associated with the detention of voluntary and involuntary patients as part of the Department’s review of the Mental Health Act 2001. This opinion document  is entitled:

Detention of Voluntary and Involuntary Patients in Mental Health Facilities: The Ethical Considerations

Specific Consent for Blood Transfusion

The first opinion document of the National Advisory Committee on Bioethics’ is entitled: Specific Informed Consent for Blood Transfusion: The Ethical Considerations. In May 2012 the Minister for Health requested that the Committee consider the question of whether specific consent for blood transfusion was required. This opinion document represents the culmination of the Committee’s deliberations on this issue.

Specific Informed Consent for Blood Transfusion: The Ethical Considerations

Meeting of the 19th National Ethics Council Forum and the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies

Under the auspices of the Irish presidency of the EU the National Advisory Committee on Bioethics hosted the meeting of the 19th National Ethics Council Forum and the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies.

Summary of the Meeting of the 19th National Ethics Council Forum and the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies

Minutes of the National Advisory Committee on Bioethics:

The secretariat for the National Advisory Committee on Bioethics is provided by the Department of Health’s Bioethics Unit.

List of Members of the National Advisory Committee on Bioethics

Useful Information

  1. Bioethics Unit’s Policy Conference on Nudging or Shoving? The Ethical Debate
  2. Irish Council for Bioethics (2002 – 2010) – Documents
  3. Links to Other National Ethics Committees