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Wednesday 1 October 2014

HSE-funded site refuses to remove threesome tips

Michael Brennan, Eilish O'Regan and Sarah Stack

Published 26/03/2013 | 05:00

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A HEALth Service Executive (HSE)-funded website has insisted on keeping its controversial "threesomes" article online despite criticism from Health Minister Dr James Reilly.

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The operators of SpunOut.ie site are under mounting pressure, with the HSE confirming that it had asked them to consider the tone and appropriateness of the article. And it is insisting on new checks and balances for content being put on the website in future.

Dr Reilly said he had contacted the HSE about the article – which provides advice about how to keep threesomes "safe and enjoyable".

"From my personal point of view, as a doctor and also as a politician, this is not the appropriate sort of information that the State should be putting out there," he said.

SpunOut.ie spokesman Ian Power said that some of the language in the article, including words like "shenanigans" and "spiced up", was amended over the weekend. But he insisted that they had no intention of making any changes in response to further criticism.

"The substance of the article has not changed, it will not change and it will remain on the website," he said.

Normalisation

Callers to Joe Duffy's 'Livelive' show on RTE Radio 1 complained that the €124,000 in annual funding supplied by the HSE to the site meant it was supporting the "normalisation" of threesomes for teenagers.

But Mr Power said the organisation, which employs five people, did not fear that its funding would be halted as a result of the controversy.

"We believe the work we are doing is exactly what the HSE has set out to fund us for, to provide impartial, non-judgmental advice to young people in relation to health," he said.

The revised article on the website was reviewed by a professional working in the area of sexual health. The notice about the age of sexual consent – 17 here and 16 in the North – was moved up to the top of the article. But there are still "top tips" such as the need to change condoms if switching partners during the threesome.

Dr Reilly's criticisms of the article were welcomed by Fine Gael Mayo TD Michelle Mulherin, who highlighted it after being contacted by a concerned citizen.

Ms Mulherin questioned why funding was being provided for this to SpunOut.ie at a time when the HSE was "scrimping and saving" to provide mental health services and dental treatment to young people.

But Fine Gael's youth wing came out against her stance. Young Fine Gael president Patrick Molloy said it supported the SpunOut.ie website publishing information about sex, including about threesomes.

"Whether Deputy Mulherin accepts it or not, the reality is that young people are having sex. Keeping young people in the dark about sex education is not a solution, and will only lead to young people making uninformed decisions," he said.

Threesomes should not be on curriculum: miriam donohoe, page 26

Irish Independent

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