Two councillors submitted a motion asking to abolish the prohibition on men who have sex with men (MSM) donating blood where they have not been celibate for a full year. Photo: Nguyn Hip

Ryan: Changes badly needed

Calls were made on Leeside this week to allow men who have sex with men to donate blood.

Solidary Councillor Fiona Ryan and Independent Councillor Lorna Bogue both had motions on the topic discussed during a meeting of Cork City Council on Monday.

The motion asked: “That in light of ongoing blood shortages, changes in both Britain and Northern Ireland and the scientific evidence, Cork City Council will write to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS), Minister for Health and Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth to abolish the prohibition on men who have sex with men (MSM) donating blood where they have not been celibate for a full year.”

The motion also called on the council to abolish “the associated prohibition on blood donations from women who have had sex with a MSM during the year prior to donation”.

The motion also asked: “Finally, council calls on the IBTS and Minister to ensure an individualised risk assessment system is introduced for all prospective blood donors, to ensure the safety and sustainability of the national blood supply.”

Cllr Ryan added at the meeting that the changes were “badly needed” and “long overdue”.

Backing the motion was Green Party Councillor Oliver Moran.

Cllr Moran said: “In 2017, Ireland removed the lifetime ban and replaced it with a 12 month ban.”

Cllr Moran continued: “In the same year, the UK reduced its prohibition from 12 months to three months and there is no evidence that this has had any detrimental effect.”

The northside councillor said he fully supported the motion, adding that it was a more sensibly and informed approach.

Fianna Fáil Councillor and Blackpool based GP John Sheehan said he too fully supported the motion.

“This came in the early 1980s during the HIC scare and there were wide prohibitions at the time (around the world).”

He continued: “But time has certainly moved on now and nearly every other country has changed it to an individual risk based assessment approach.”

“It is my understanding that the board of the IBTS are actively looking at changing this policy and this is to be welcomed especially with the ongoing challenges of managing blood supply,” concluded the councillor.