The Irish Cancer Society is offering to donate €1m to the Department of Health to help roll out a national bowel cancer screening programme.

The Society said it was forced to offer part-funding for a detection programme because it feared that the Government would do nothing unless it was forced to act.

The €1m donation will be spread over two years.

On RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Irish Cancer Society chairman Bill McCabe said hundreds of people who would otherwise die this year could be saved if a screening programme is rolled out.

Minister for Health Mary Harney said she welcomes the announcement and looks forward to hearing from the Health Information Quality Authority about the most cost-effective way of rolling out the programme.