My Department does not support the funding of research on embryonic stem cells that might involve the creation of an embryo for research purposes. While this area of activity is not currently governed by any specific legislation, medical practice is governed by guidelines issued by the Medical Council. In relation to research on embryos the guidelines state that the creation of embryos for experimental purposes would be professional misconduct.
Research activities at European level are primarily the responsibility of my colleague, Deputy Noel Treacy, Minister of State with responsibility for science, technology and commerce.
I am aware that there are concerns about the absence of a statutory framework for regulating this area. As a first step towards addressing these concerns, I established a Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction last year to prepare a report on the possible approaches to the regulation of all aspects of assisted human reproduction. The issues involved are complex with legal, ethical, social and medical implications. Accordingly, the commission is required to consult with interested parties, including philosophical and theological experts, so as to ensure that all perspectives are considered and reflected as appropriate. The publication of the commission's report will provide the basis for informed public debate before the finalisation of any policy proposals.