Blood donor ban on homosexuals opposed
A motion calling on the Irish Blood Transfusion Service to reverse its policy excluding sexually active homosexual men from donating blood was passed by a majority of one at the Young Fine Gael conference.
Young Fine Gael president Patrick O’Driscoll strongly backed the motion, questioning why monogamous gay couples in long-term stable relationships were barred from donating blood, while heterosexuals who engaged in unsafe sex were not subject to the same lifetime ban.
“There was a need for the ban 20 years ago, because of the Aids epidemic. Nowadays, the gay community is probably more sexually aware of health issues than the straight community.”
Opposing the motion, Stephen Spillane, vice-chairman of the UCC branch, said that it had been badly worded.
“It specified that it was about sexually active homosexual men. This omitted bisexual men and others. The ban has not been lifted totally in any part of the world. It has been relaxed in some places.
“The fact is that homosexual men engaging in sexual activities are the highest risk from HIV transmission,” he added. “The ban is a good idea, but I accept that a lifetime ban is wrong.”
Generally, the mood among delegates was upbeat and optimistic, with considerable praise for the manner in which Enda Kenny has restored the party’s fortunes.
Conor Cresham, who described himself as a “die-hard Blueshirt from the Mayo Fine Gael capital, Castlebar, Co Mayo”, said the mood was very positive at Young Fine Gael meetings. He expressed doubts about sharing power with the PDs.
“I think Michael McDowell said what he said because he wants to be in power. The PDs do not want to be out of office, they will do anything to retain power. The PDs are part of the Government and therefore part of the problem.”
Limerick-based student Barry Walsh said party morale had increased significantly. “Membership of Young Fine Gael has rocketed. It is over 4,000 now. When I joined after the last election, it was considerably less than that.”
© The Irish Times