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Title: Irish ostriches, embryos and stem cells
Author: Gough, Fionnuala Mary
ISNI:       0000 0004 2737 3966
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2013
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Human embryonic stem cell research would seem to offer the prospect of developing a greater understanding of, and potential therapies for, common degenerative diseases such as diabetes mellitus, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Despite the fact that some Irish institutions engage in such research, Ireland is one of the few countries in Europe which has failed to produce any relevant regulatory framework or legislation. This is largely because embryo research and its regulation remain mired in conflicting socio-political values and interests, despite the fact that the in vitro human embryo is not afforded any legal protection under the Irish Constitution. This thesis seeks to examine the current Irish legal lacuna in relation to embryos and embryonic stem cell research. The first of the three papers making up the core of this thesis reviews the background to the moral, legal and social factors that have contributed to the extant Irish position. A description of the divergent policies enacted in other jurisdictions is also given to outline possible policy options which may be considered by Ireland in the future. The views of relevant stakeholders on the impact of the regulatory lacuna are explored in the second paper through a series of semi-structured interviews. These interviews highlight a surprising level of consensus on the need for the Irish legislature to act and introduce regulations to provide certainty, in one way or the other, in this area of scientific innovation. A procedural mechanism is proposed in the third paper which could allow the development of policy and concomitant regulation in Ireland in this area. It is hoped that the procedural process and resultant framework would be sufficiently inclusive as to be acceptable to the majority of people in Irish society. In conclusion, it is argued that it is undesirable that a modern pluralist democracy (as Ireland aspires to be) should regard legislative inertia and non-regulation as the preferred method of dealing with morally challenging scientific endeavour. Instead, appropriate procedural mechanism should be utilised to allow for the development of apposite policies.
Supervisor: Harris, John; Devaney, Sarah; Gurnham, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Legal vacuum ; policies ; Constitutional protection