The Health Minister has confirmed that rules on blood donation for gay and bisexual men are set to change.
The changes, which will be overseen by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS), will mean that the existing 12-month deferral period for blood donation for men who have sex with men will be reduced to four months from March next year.
Later next year, there are plans to create an individual assessment process for donors to replace the deferral period.
The deferral in place for anyone taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) will also be reduced from 12 to four months.
The changes come following a report from an independent advisory group.
In a statement, Stephen Donnelly said: “I am delighted to welcome this significant move by the IBTS, removing the barriers to blood donation that currently exist for men who have sex with men.
“To be a blood donor is to give a wonderful, life-saving and life-preserving gift to a person in their time of urgent need.”
Mr Donnelly said that he was looking forward to “working with the IBTS to implement and publicise this important step”.
In a statement, the chair of HIV Ireland Bernard Condon welcomed the move.
He said that the charity looked forward to “full implementation of the changes in 2022”.
Mr Condon said that it was an issue they have “long campaigned” for.
Earlier this week, the IBTS said that it was importing blood from the UK due to a current shortage in Ireland.
“Since moving to an appointment-based system at the start of the pandemic donors have been incredible in their support,” Prof Stephen Field from the IBTS said on Tuesday.
“However, it has been increasingly difficult to keep the blood supply at the level we need to see us through Christmas and New Year.
“Storm Barra resulted in a number of clinics being cancelled and that cost us approximately 300 donations.”