The staff at the Irish Council for Bioethics are expected to be seconded to the Department of Health, which will also take over responsibility for funding the bioethics body, the Medical Independent has learned.
The Council was due to close at the end of last year following a decision by the Department of Enterprise Trade and Innovation to terminate its funding.
However, the Department of Health will now take responsibility for the operating costs of the Council which, according to the Department, are expected to run to approximately €270,000 during 2010.
"It is expected that the three staff of the secretariat of the Irish Council for Bioethics will be seconded to the Department of Health and Children in the near future.
Responsibility for the operating costs of the Council has transferred from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation to the Department of Health and Children," according to a spokesperson for the Department of Health. Established in 2002, the Irish Council for Bioethics is charged with providing independent advice to Government and policymakers, and promoting public understanding of bioethical issues.
The decision to withdraw funding for the Council last year would have resulted in Ireland being the only country in the EU27 without an independent bioethics body.
According to the Department of Health: "The Minister for Health and Children recognises the value of the work done by the Council, and of the independent and expert perspective they bring to policy making in the increasingly complex area of health and social services.
"The Minister is very conscious that bioethics expertise is extremely relevant in this context and will take account of this in framing arrangements for the future.
"Decisions on the details of these future arrangements have not yet been taken."