The Irish Blood Transfusion Service has voted to end the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood in favour of a one-year deferral period.

A meeting of the IBTS Board has recommended that blood be accepted from gay men if they have not had sex with a man in the previous 12 months.

The current ban has been in place in Ireland since the mid 1980s to reduce the risk of HIV transmission.

The recommendation will now go to Minister for Health Simon Harris for consideration and decision.

The IBTS made its recommendation today on the basis of latest scientific evidence and experience in other countries.

It would not be expected to come into force until the end of the year.

In 2011, the ban was lifted in England, Scotland and Wales, also in favour of a one-year deferral period.

The ban is due to be lifted in Northern Ireland from September, in favour of a one-year deferral.

Campaigners for the lifting of the ban had argued that it stigmatises a group, when the science and evidence does not support maintaining the current position.

Earlier this year, the IBTS outlined three possible options that the Department of Health might approve - removing the ban; leaving it in place; or introducing a deferral period whereby gay men could give blood after a fixed period of time.

There had been debate as to whether any deferral should be five years, or one year.

All blood donations to the IBTS are tested for HIV and other known infections.

A spokesperson for Minister for Health Simon Harris said he has received today's IBTS recommendation and is actively considering it and will make a decision shortly.

The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network has welcomed the decision.

Director Brian Sheehan said a one year deferral period was progress and "a welcome step".

Mr Sheehan said that the donation system should be based on best-available science, not stigma and be based on behaviour, not identity.

He said other countries were moving to a six-month, or three-month deferral because the "window period" between getting an infection and a test showing a positive result was shortening.