Senator Daly speaks about the need for review of organ donation and transplantation legislation

I have been observing this debate for six years and have come to the conclusion it is a fundamental failure of the political process. No amount of money will make any difference to our organ donation system until we have the correct procedures and structures in place. I was in the Seanad when Senator Feargal Quinn introduced his presumed consent legislation, which was hotly debated. When one reads the headline, it might make sense. However, when one delves down into the matter, it is clear it does not work unless there are systems behind it and co-ordinators who would meet the families in question to ask them to consider donation. A process is needed, but we do not have one in place.

In the public consultation process on the matter in 2009, 23 out of 30 organisations involved stated that presumed consent is not the way to go. I believe we are now going to have another public consultation. There is nothing like having another report on what we already have been told. Having a report and pretending there is action does not deal with the problem.

In 2012, the EU directive on organ transplantation was implemented in Ireland. Many of the delegation were in Dublin Castle when we had what I can only describe as a box-ticking exercise. It involved officials from the HSE discussing a directive, a draft of which was not available to anybody in advance of the meeting, which meant we were all talking in generalities. After having made my contribution at this meeting, I found it amazing that the directive was not put before the Dáil, the Seanad or the health committee but was signed in on the last possible day, 28 August 2012, by the Minister. That was a failure of process. It was a significant opportunity missed.

Our first organ transplantation legislation in the State was itself a failure of process. Here we are now talking about presumed consent, which would not make a blind bit of difference if we brought the legislation in tomorrow morning because there would be nothing underneath it to support it. There would be no system to ensure people could talk to families about organ donation. We could have a required request system, which would be more effective. Again, however, unless one has the structures in place, it cannot work. It is a failure of our process that our first organ transplantation legislation in the State was introduced last year but no legislator had any input into it and the concerns of the delegation were not taken on board.


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