New debate on organ donation at Stormont

From left to right: Rosie McCorley MLA , Joe Brolly ,Maeve McLaughlin Foyle MLA Chair of the Health Committee Grace McDermott and Daith� McKay MLA meeting with Joe Brolly to discuss an organ donation bill that is clear and makes the department promote organ donation.
From left to right: Rosie McCorley MLA , Joe Brolly ,Maeve McLaughlin Foyle MLA Chair of the Health Committee Grace McDermott and Daith� McKay MLA meeting with Joe Brolly to discuss an organ donation bill that is clear and makes the department promote organ donation.

A fresh debate has begun at Stormont over the clarification of legislation in relation to organ donation.

At a meeting earlier this week headed up by Chair of the Stormont Health Committee, Maeve McLaughlin, the process of setting our a clear way forward on the issue began by asserting that the general promotion of organ donation was a duty for politicians with a health brief.

A proposed Bill on organ donation laid down at Stormont last year received heavy criticism from many quarters and was labelled confusing by Joe Brolly-himself an organ donor.

Mr Brolly, a barrister by profession, said whilst giving evidence to the Stormont Health Committee: “I think that Stephen Hawking couldn’t understand this Bill. I mean I am lawyer, it’s what I do, it is my daily bread. It is impossible to understand.”

Maeve McLaughlin told the ‘Journal’: “The original Bill was flawed and confusing and was criticised by clinicians.”

The first Bill called for the adotion of a soft opt-out system where people would be presumed donors unless they state otherwise before death. However, confusion was added to the debate with the suggestion that family members would retain the final say on relatives organs being donated.

Sinn Fein MLA Maeve mcLaughlin said the next step in revisiting the debate would be to set a day aside when the Health Committee could take evidence from a series of experts on the issue and then formulate a report for the Assembly upon which new legislation can be brought forward.

“I think after that process we would be hopeful of a Bill that is concise and clear and that makes sense and would also be one that would have the support of clinicians as well as the public,” she said.

Joe Brolly, who is also a member of Opt For Life, a group promoting organ donation said: “If it is simple it is easy to publicise. What we have always supported is a simple organ donation act that reflects reality.”