“fair minded and informed observer could not conclude there was a real risk of apparent bias…”

Hey ho, so the former Minister for Health Edwin Poots has won his appeal on the so-called ‘Gay Blood’ issue…

There is no basis for the conclusion that the Minister’s decision in this case was predetermined by his Christian beliefs and there is ample evidence to indicate that the Minister approached the decision-making by evaluating the competing factors before adopting on a precautionary basis the status quo.

“We do not consider that the fair minded and informed observer could conclude that there was a real risk of apparent bias.”

Of course, the matter is already about to move on. But as previously noted on Slugger, any ‘fair-minded and informed’ view would have recognised there was a risk and the Minister was not acting outside the parameters of widely recognised risk.


  • Kevin Breslin

    Meanwhile south of the border, there is a gay male doctor as health minister who stands over a similar blood ban.

    Pretty much the harm caused motivation for the decision seems to be as bad as the decision itself.

  • Pasty

    Tell me this Mick, do people who give blood in the North have to swear on the Bible that they are not Gay or how do the blood bank people decide ?
    What happens if those people who are Gay refuse to answer the question when donating their blood ?
    and if Poots or his wife or children, or grandchildren needed blood will they demand to know the name of the person who donated it in order to carry out some kind of check before sanctioning the transfusion or do you think he would go for the life saving option and not worry who donated it ?

  • mickfealty

    Read what the judgement says about “the fair minded and informed observer”? And then take the time to read the back links, not least the one about the current DUP health minister moving into line with England (and ahead of the Republic, I think)?

  • Croiteir

    Another entirely predictable outcome

  • Zig70

    Well, the law is blindfolded but the plaintiff is still a duck.

  • Croiteir

    Not if you get a disease Kevin

  • chrisjones2

    The problem is that there is always a risk in anything we do. Lots of diseases are transmissible in blood so why single out Aids more than others? Why different standards in different areas?

  • Slater

    If you have a devolved Minister of Health is he not perfectly entitled to decide matters on his own conscience or as his morality tells him, rather than follow England or the Republic?
    Why bother with an Assembly, if not?

  • Granni Trixie

    I have mentioned this previously on Slugger: I have experience of being turned away from the Blood place at City Hospital where I went to give blood. This was because I said on the form they gave me that I had a particular condition. They told me they considered it best not to take my blood because little was known about the condition, which sounded reasonable.
    Furthermore they sat me down to offer me a cup of tea because they assumed I might be upset (I was not because I am a scarrdy cow trying to do the right thing.)

    So I think that if there is solid evidence of risk, it trumps anyone’s feelings of being slighted. I suppose like everyone I was assuming from past form that Poots could have been jumping to conclusions to suit his particular outlook. Whatever – we now are where we are.


  • SeaanUiNeill

    The summary of the appeal judgement is of interest especially the summaries of the other aspects of the judgement:


    As far as I can discover the full judgement is not yet available on the site.

  • notimetoshine

    The issue is it isn’t his place to follow his own personal morality, it is what’s best for his department and the people it serves.

    It is what we need in NI, a lot more pragmatic technocrats a lot less conscience and “morality”.

  • Hugh Davison

    A ‘fair-minded and informed observer’ will note that there is no ban on importing blood from the rest of the UK, where different rules apply. I don’t see any logic applied in this judgement.

  • Croiteir

    Then you have no problem with Poots decision as the courts say that this decision was based on facts

  • Gaygael

    The situation is ridiculous and untenable. We regularly import MSM blood from other parts of the U.K.

    Essentially the message is we are happy with MSM blood in our banks of it comes from England, Scotland or Wales, but not to accept it from MSM here!

    Expect either minister Hamilton or a new health minister to move quickly on this issue and distance themselves from Poots and Wells.

  • notimetoshine

    I think it was a poor decision by the courts considering that blood donated over the water may come from gay men and often blood from GB is used in NI. Therefore it is logical to assume that gay blood has or could be used in NI. Unless, therefore, the minister had banned all blood from GB because of its potential ‘danger’ it can hardly be seen to have been based on the ‘facts’.

    In fact one could accuse the minister of negligence in allowing potentially gay blood to be used in Northern Ireland, considerin g the facts as this case seems to have them.

  • Croiteir

    I think that the court, when it had the full relevant facts presented, knew more than you think and came to the correct decision. So what you think is irrelevant as frankly you don’t know what you are talking about.
    You may accuse the minister of negligence, just as successfully as some accused him of bias and homophobia, (whatever the hell that is), but they would clearly be wrong. The court, (with none of this sneering “seem to have” nonsense), has clearly shown him to be correct in his approach.
    What would be more interesting to see is whether the people who put agenda before facts will apologise for their demonization of Mr Poots as swiftly as they denounced him. But then that would show a touch of class.

  • Reader

    Pasty: What happens if those people who are Gay refuse to answer the question when donating their blood ?
    You fill in a form with about 50 tick boxes, with a couple of them relevant to this issue. Then you sign and date the form. If you don’t put the right ticks in all the right boxes, they won’t take your blood.

  • Lionel Hutz

    It seems like the judgment considers procedural matters rather than the substantial issue of whether the life time ban is itself a tenable position in the long term. Essentially saying that Minister of Health is the appropriate person to make the decision,which is contrary to the judgement of the court of first instance and that he should have the time to investigate the matter himself and make his decision which it follows was not the finding of the lower court.

    None of this says the decision to keep a life time ban will in the end be considered lawful and certainly makes no commention on whether it is right.

    But the interesting thing about the decision is that ut shows that it was all too easy to say that this Ministers decision, or indecision depending on how you look at it, was infected by bias. He will no doubt feel vindicated by the courts ruling in that regard. And he should. I have to say, I’ve never understood how this was thrown up as an equality issue.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    My own impression, Lionel, thank you. This is why its so important to read the actual judgement instead of simply “sound biting” the parts one finds seem to support some personal interest.