Irish Independent: Pundit Brolly hits out over Seanad recall in organ donor row

Fiach Kelly and  Fiona Ellis– 07 August 2013

CONTROVERSIAL GAA pundit Joe Brolly has criticised a Fianna Fail senator who is forcing the Seanad to be recalled from its holidays to discuss an organ donation law.

The former Derry star, currently at the centre of a war of words with Tyrone after accusing them of systematic fouling, said he can’t understand Senator Mark Daly‘s approach to the issue, after the politician succeeded in his efforts to get the Upper House recalled.

Mr Daly got the support of the required 20 senators needed to support his efforts to bring the Seanad back during its holidays. It now must be called back by August 27 – weeks before senators are due back in mid-September.

The donation law is covered by an EU directive and one-third of the Seanad is needed to support a recall to discuss such a directive.

It is the first organ donor law in the history of the State, but it was not debated by the Dail, Seanad or the Oireachtas Health Committee before being enacted. Mr Daly is opposed to the Government’s approach but Mr Brolly says it has adopted the best system.

The current situation leaves donation up to families after death, but the system favoured by Mr Brolly is that everyone would be a donor but would have to opt out.

Seanad Cathaoirleach Paddy Burke will decide the date senators will come back but it must be before August 27.

Some organ transplant groups claim the law has serious faults but Mr Brolly says it will greatly improve donation rates.

The Irish Kidney Association (IKA) is also backing Mr Daly, but Mr Brolly told Today FM‘s ‘The Last Word’ he cannot understand their position.

Mr Daly cited IKA’s claim that the Government proposal is “the worst implementation of this EU directive anywhere in Europe” and said it should have been debated. “The law is seriously flawed according to groups advocating for those on organ transplant waiting lists around the country,” he said.

Mr Brolly, who gave a kidney to friend and fellow GAA coach Shane Finnegan – although the transplant failed – supports an opt-out system of organ donation, which the Government is proposing. This means everyone starts out as a donor but people who do not want to be a donor can opt out.

“Roughly about 98pc of people believe in organ donation after death so if you don’t want to be an organ donor under the new system, you opt out,”  Mr Brolly said.

“For the other 98pc, your family makes a decision at the hospital so it is a decision that is based on explicit family consent at the hospital.”

“The countries that are using the soft opt-out, which is what the Irish Government is now proposing, have just accelerated ahead away from us so that Ireland’s organ donation rate last year was 20 donors per million of the population and in 2010 was 16 donors per million of the population.”

Spain has a similar system and its rate is 36 donors per million people.

He said he had spoken at length with Mr Daly, adding: “I simply cannot understand his position.”

Fine Gael Wicklow TD Simon Harris called Mr Daly’s recall a “stunt” and said he had “ample opportunity” to do so earlier in the year.

“It will cost taxpayers money and achieve nothing, as the Seanad can’t hold a vote on the matter because Senator Daly hasn’t followed proper procedures,” Mr Harris said.

For the article on the Irish Independent, click here.

Twitter-64Be part of the Conversation! Tweet @SenatorMarkDaly to follow our progress on recalling the #Seanad to debate & amend this flawed legislation, and stay up to date on Mark’s work for Organ Donation and Transplantation in Ireland here.

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