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Research Ethics Committees

The working group on Research Ethics Committees was established to review the operational procedures of research ethics committees (RECs) in Ireland.

On 14 September 2004, the Council launched its first publication Operational Procedures for Research Ethics Committees: Guidance 2004.

The guidelines were compiled following a national survey of RECs and a consultation with various stakeholders including the Department of Health and Children and the major research funding agencies in the State. The recommendations are based on the requirements for ethical review established in international guidelines and were drafted in cognisance of the European Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC. The Council is hopeful that this guidance document will facilitate and support an efficient and effective ethical review of research proposals.

Mr Ivor Callelly T.D., Minister of State, Department of Health and Children launched the booklet and said that he was hopeful the document would “prove to be a very valuable contribution to the conduct of clinical trials in this country.” Professor Cecily Kelleher (Chair of the working group) said that the Council hoped “the guidance contained in this document will facilitate research ethics committees in conducting an independent, comprehensive ethical review of research proposals, which will serve researchers and the public alike”.

The working group established a REC extranet service in order to facilitate cooperation between individual RECs and serve as a source of information on EU directives and developments in the field of ethics.

The working group also hosted a full-day national research ethics committee meeting in March 2004. Learn more about this meeting...

Terms of Reference

1. To review in depth, the existing practices of Ethics Committees in the Republic of Ireland, with particular reference to Research Ethics Committees
2. To identify best practice in the area internationally and across the island of Ireland
3. To produce guidance on the composition and operation of Research Ethics Committees and to suggest a national structure for such organisations in the Republic of Ireland
4. To report to Council on all aspects of the deliberations and conclusions of the working group on Research Ethics Committees

Working Group Members

Professor Cecily Kelleher, Chairperson
School of Public Health and Population Sciences, University College Dublin
Dr Margaret Fitzgerald (until December 2004)
Department of Public Health, Eastern Regional Health Authority
Mr Dermot Gleeson, SC (until December 2003)
Senior Counsel and Chairman of AIB
Canon Kenneth Kearon (until December 2004)
Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin
Mr Dan Lynch
Secretary, Research Ethics Committee of Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Dublin Incorporating the National Children’s Hospital
Dr Peter McKenna (as of December 2004)
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Rotunda Hospital, Dublin
Dr Siobhán O’Sullivan
Irish Council for Bioethics
Professor Anne Scott
School of Nursing, Dublin City University