Northern Ireland could finally lift its “irrational” permanent ban on men who have sex with men donating blood.

In England, Scotland and Wales, men who have sex with men can give blood if they abstain from sex for 12 months – whereas in Northern Ireland they are banned for life.

Since 2011, the power-sharing executive has had successive DUP Health ministers who have refused to shift on the policy.

Gavin Boyd, Policy Manager for The Rainbow Project said: ‘We congratulate Minister O’Neill on her appointment and hope to continue our positive engagements with her in the coming mandate however, we must also call on her to immediately remove the lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. The Court of Appeal has made it clear that this policy decision lies with the Minister for Health and therefore there is no need for consultation with other executive ministers. This illogical policy could and should be removed immediately.’

Sinn Fein LGBT had this to say on the appointment of Michelle O’Neill as Health Minister.

“In our manifesto we committed to lift the ban on gay, bisexual and MSM giving blood, we are delighted that one of our representatives Michelle O’Neill MLA is the new Health Minister. ‪#‎ByeByeBloodBan‬

Last year the The Irish Times reported that David Scoffield QC argued that the decision to maintain the ban was “so disproportionate as to be unreasonable” – giving the infinitesimal” one-in-a-billion threat.

Mr Scoffield contended: “In Northern Ireland, where there are only around 64,000 donations per year, that’s a risk of an infectious donation being realised about every 15,000 years.”

It’s actually one every 15,625 years, by our maths, so we’re due a mix-up by the year 17,640… and we’re hoping HIV will be eradicated long before then

Adding that the DUP minister at the time, Edwin Poots, had defied professional advice on the issue, Mr Scoffield said: “The minister’s own professional adviser was supporting the change, the chief medical officer was supporting the change.”