biometrics, identification, human enhancement
 cloning, genetic modification, animal researchgenetics, dna, stem cell research
forensic, dna, criminal databasesmedical ethics, clinical trials, human biological research

Public Events

In association with Science Foundation Ireland, the Council co-sponsored and contributed to RTÉ Radio 1's radio series:
The Big Science Debate: Exploring the Ethical Issues
The series consisted of moderated debates at six locations nationwide at which members of the general public had the opportunity to question a panel of experts holding a variety of views on various bioethical topics.

  • Human Enhancement:
    Making People Better or Making Better People?
  • In your Blood:
    Forensic DNA Databases
  • Environmental Ethics:
    Whose Planet is it Anyway?
  • Stem Cell Research:
    Hope or Hype?
  • Organ Donation:
    The Gift of Life?
  • Euthanasia:
    Your Body, Your Death, Your Choice?

The ICB produced information leaflets to accompany the show that can be downloaded here...

Check out the Big Science Debate: Exploring the Ethical Issues Website (click here)

Irish Council for Bioethics Third Annual Lecture 2006

Professor Albert Osterhaus (National Influenza Centre and Dept of Virology, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam) presented the Council's third annual public lecture “Emerging Virus Infections in a Changing World”. The lecture was held in Cork on the 2nd of November 2006.

In the past century, pandemic outbreaks of influenza and AIDS have cost the lives of tens of millions of people. These events were all caused by multiple introductions of animal viruses - influenza A viruses and SIV of birds and non-human primates respectively - into the human population. Besides these introductions causing major pandemics in humans, a large number of other virus infections have spilled over from animal reservoirs to humans or other susceptible species, resulting in considerable morbidity and mortality as "virgin soil" epidemics. The most recent examples in humans are the introduction of SARS coronavirus and influenza A viruses (H5N1 and H7N7) from the animal world, which caused global concern about their potential to be at the origin of new pandemics. More details...

Medicine Weekly article here...

Irish Council for Bioethics Second Annual Lecture 2005

Professor John Harris (University of Manchester) and Professor Paul Schotsmans (University of Leuven, Belgium) presented the Council's second annual public lecture “Organs for Sale? - Regulation of a Market for Human Organ Donation”. The lecture, which took the form of a debate, was held on 11th May 2005 in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Mr Maurice Nelligan, former heart transplant surgeon, chaired the discussion.

Globally, the number of people awaiting an organ transplant is far greater than the number of organs being donated. Traditionally, human organs used in transplants in Ireland are acquired from brain dead donors. Given the recognised shortfall in the supply of human organs for transplantation a number of different options have been suggested to increase the supply of donor organs. One such option that is being investigated in Ireland is the establishment of a live donor programme. Should a live donor programme be implemented, the question arises whether people should receive financial incentives to donate their organs.
More details...

Conference Report: Organs for Sale? - Regulation of a Market for Human Organ Donation, Paul Ivory, Medico-Legal Journal of Ireland, Vol 11, 1 (2005).

Euthanasia Debate

The Irish Council for Bioethics organised a debate in conjunction with UCD’s Medical and Literary and Historical (L&H) Societies. The motion of the debate, which took place on 20th October 2004, was “That this house would legalise euthanasia”. The event was chaired by Professor Denis Cusack (Division of Legal Medicine, UCD), and speakers included proponents: Mr Rob Jonquiere (Right to Die, Netherlands); Mr Ludwig Minelli (Dignitas, Switzerland) and opponents: Professor William Binchy (TCD); Dr Regina McQuillan (St. Francis Hospice, Raheny); Dr John Scally (TCD); and Dr Eoin Tiernan (St. Vincent’s University Hospital). Following a robust discussion of the arguments for and against legalising euthanasia in Ireland, the motion was voted down by a significant majority.

Irish Council for Bioethics First Annual Public Lecture 2004

The Nobel Laureate, Professor Sir John Sulston, whose research group was responsible for sequencing a large part of the human genome, presented the Irish Council for Bioethics’ inaugural annual public lecture: “The Common Thread: Society and the Human Genome”, held on 12 February 2004 in Dublin City University.

Professor Sulston spoke about how the Genome Project came to pass and what possibilities it offered for the advancement of science and medicine. He explained his determination to make his discoveries freely available to other researchers stating that patenting “impedes research and innovation, throttles ethical decision-making, widens the gap between rich and poor and contributes to global insecurity”.

Conference Report: The Common Thread: Society and the Human Genome, Emily de Grae, Medico-Legal Journal of Ireland, Vol 10, 1 (2004).

Photo credits: Victor Habbick Visions/ Science Photo Library