Category Archives: Active Citizenship

Active Citizenship means to play an active role in the society in which we live. It is about how we treat others whilst being accepting of differences and remaining conscious of the importance of diversity, equality and inclusion. It is about acknowledging that while we, as citizens, have rights but responsibilities also. By actively participating as citizens, together we can create the society we want – at home in the family, by volunteering in our community and by voting in elections and referendums.

Active Citizenship requires leadership. Therefore, it is important we choose our representatives carefully and those which we trust. Elected representatives must carry out their role in an accountable and open manner. By taking responsibility together for our society is the best way to make Ireland the ideal place where we want to live.

Speech in the Seanad “Dealing with the Past in Northern Ireland: Statements”

I thank the Tánaiste for coming to the House and taking this important debate. I know the case of Patsy Kelly has been raised already. That is only one of the many legacy issues. They are referred to as legacy issues but they are still murders. They are simply uninvestigated murders in many cases. A historical inquiries team was set up to investigate many of these but they really should be murder inquiries. We saw recently the decision by the British Government to only prosecute one of the paratroopers involved in Bloody Sunday. It is amazing that the British justice system could convict the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven with no evidence when, with 14 dead bodies, the same system was unable to convict paratroopers involved in Bloody Sunday.

Along with my colleagues I was up in Belfast for the Ballymurphy inquest. It is amazing that an inquest would take so long to be carried out after people were murdered. We will no doubt see a similar farcical process of alleged British justice when it comes to prosecutions in that case. Prosecutions for murder in Northern Ireland seem to depend on whether the person involved was wearing a British uniform.

We also see other legacy issues, including a request from the loyalist side for the Taoiseach to support Raymond McCord. The point is that the Government would not be seen to be partisan in respect of who it seeks justice for because there are people who were murdered in the loyalist community too. Raymond McCord wants the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste to seek a full independent public inquiry into the murder of Raymond McCord Jr., who was killed on the instructions of a paid informer of the RUC special branch. This was done under Operation Ballast, which was a major inquiry by Nuala O’Loan, the then Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. As we all know, it found widespread collusion between the UVF and UDA and the British security services and RUC special branch.

That collusion went all the way to the top. When we are looking for an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane, we should also seek public inquiries into events such as the murder of Raymond McCord. It is clear that he was murdered. There was a dead body. Everybody knows who carried out the instructions and the murder, yet nothing is happening. Justice is constantly denied to both communities by a system that seems incapable of addressing the most fundamental right of any family which has lost a loved one, namely, that they would get justice and the truth. However, the truth is being denied, as we see in the case of Patsy Kelly, where evidence uncovered in recent years has been withheld from families to ensure that justice is not done.

We need the Government to ensure that there are inquiries into the cases with which we are all familiar such as the Ballymurphy massacre and the murders of Patsy Kelly, Pat Finucane and others. It should also ensure that other families, such as that of Raymond McCord, get the justice they deserve in regard to these issues. We often discuss legacy issues, but these are murders that have never been investigated properly and for which, as a result, there has been a failure to prosecute. This is due to a systematic process within the British Government whereby it is waiting for people who should be prosecuted or who have evidence and would be able to assist in prosecutions to die, with the effect that justice will be denied to the families who are so entitled to it after all these years.

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Calls for altruistic organ donation; Half a dozen people a year referred to North for altruistic donation, says IKA

People who want to donate organs altruistically for transplantation are being forced to go to Northern Ireland because of the lack of a dedicated service here, a charity has claimed.

The Irish Kidney Association says it is referring up to half a dozen people a year to the North because there is no provision in the Republic for altruistic organ donation.

With the number of living donors falling substantially last year for the first time in a decade, it says Ireland should follow the lead of other European countries by setting up a service to cater for the needs of the growing number of dialysis patients.

Forty living donors provided organs under the transplantation programme last year, down from 51 in 2017 and the first substantial fall since records began. At present, most living donor transplants occur within families.

Minister for Health Simon Harris marked the beginning of Organ Donor Awareness Week yesterday by announcing improvements to the expenses paid to living donors. This includes a childcare cost allowance of up to €5,000, the payment of up to €10,000 to self-employed donors for staff costs and the payment of expenses to living liver donors.

Opt-in registry

The IKA has called for the provision of organ donor nurses in all intensive care units, the introduction of a positive opt-in registry for consent to organ donation and an audit of potential donors in intensive care units.

It has queried Mr Harris’s plans to introduce an opt-out system for organ donation, saying action on the other measures it proposes would do more to increase the supply of donor organs.

Speaking at the launch of Organ Donor Awareness Week, Mr Harris yesterday said he intends to press ahead with the opt-out system, which will form part of the Human Tissue Bill to be published next month.

“The legislation will be accompanied by a publicity campaign, aiming to raise awareness of organ donation and to encourage people to make a decision in relation to organ donation and to share that decision with their loved ones,” Mr Harris said.

Driving licences

The IKA says doctors should be able to access information about the almost one million people whose willingness to donate organs is indicated on their driving licences.

“As the Minister has already proposed the introduction of an opt-out registry, it would be a huge missed opportunity not to utilise the existing record of people who do wish to be organ donors,” says IKA chief executive Mark Murphy. “We have this data, and we’re doing nothing with it.”

Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly has called on Minister for Transport Shane Ross to sign a ministerial order to allow medical professionals access to driving licence details.

In addition to the living donations, the organs of 81 deceased people were transplanted in 2018, resulting in 234 organ transplants.

These included 56 liver transplants and five pancreas transplants carried out at St Vincent’s University Hospital, and 18 heart transplants as well as 28 lung transplants at the Mater hospital. A total of 167 kidney transplants were carried out at Beaumont Hospital, including the 40 living donor kidney transplants.

The total number of organ transplants carried out fell to 274, from 311 in 2017.

About 550 people are currently waiting for a kidney, heart, lung, liver or pancreas transplant.

Mr Murphy urged the public to carry an organ donor card and to have a conversation with their families about their donation wishes after death.

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Filed under Organ Donation and Transplantation

Lives could be saved if Ross signed order for organ donors – Daly

Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly has called on Minister Shane Ross to sign a ministerial order to allow medical professionals access to driving licence details.

Figures from the Irish Kidney Association reveal that almost one million people have indicated that they want to be an organ donor on their driving licences; however under the current system medical professionals do not have access to that information.

Senator Daly explained, “Minister Ross has the opportunity to save lives – all he has to do is sign a ministerial order to allow doctors and medical staff access to driving licence information relating to organ donation.  However, he is continuing to refuse to do so.

“Today marks the beginning of organ donor week and it would provide a great boost to organ donors, recipients, volunteers and campaigners if the Minister could realise the impact that a simple stroke of the pen would have on the dozens of people waiting on the donor list in Ireland.

“Minister Ross has already signed similar orders to allow the Courts, the Gardaí, parking clampers and motorway operators eFlow.  Why is he refusing to sign such an order to save lives?  The Minister has cited Brexit and data protection for his failure to sign the order but doesn’t add up when private operators have been allowed access to this very same information.

“We are talking about life and death here, not unpaid fines.  I am urging Minister Ross to realise the life changing impact this simple legislative change would make and sign the ministerial order”, concluded Senator Daly.

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Cork transplant recipient says access to driver license information could save more lives

launch of organ donor week

GREATER access to driver’s licence records could lead to more organ donations and save more lives, it has been claimed.

Almost one million people have indicated on their driving licence that they want to be organ donors.

However, this information is unavailable to healthcare professionals.

Cork woman Isabel Terry underwent a double lung and heart transplant in 2017 at the age of 42 after spending 15 years on the waiting list.

“It’s very important that doctors can access information and know if people want to be organ donors,” she told The Echo.

“But it’s also hugely important that the next of kin know, as at the moment, they’re the ones that make the decision at the end of the day.

Heart and double lung transplant recipient Isabel Terry from Bishopstown, Cork, is promoting organ donation awareness week. Picture Dan LInehan
Heart and double lung transplant recipient Isabel Terry from Bishopstown, Cork, is promoting organ donation awareness week. Picture Dan LInehan

“Even if a person has expressed their desire to donate their organs, their next of kin can say no and medical professionals won’t go against that,” she added.

“That needs to change and we need to discuss organ donation a lot more.

“A lot of people might have their organ donor card or their licence ticked and their next of kin might not have realised.

“Then it might be an easier decision for them to make, to allow the donation to happen, if they knew.

“It could save lives. Organ donation saves lives all the time and I know that I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my donor.

“Time was running out for me and I literally had just a couple of months to live,” said Isabel.

Fianna Fáil Senator, Mark Daly, has demanded a change in the law to allow greater access to this information, which he said would save more lives.

He has called on the Transport Minister to allow medical professionals access to driving licence information so that they can establish if a driver licence holder is an organ donor.

“Since 2013, driving licence applicants have been asked if they would they be willing to be an organ donor,” explained Mr Daly, who was nominated to the Seanad by the Irish Kidney Association.

“However, doctors and medical professionals are currently not allowed to access this information.

“This means that those involved in the facilitation of organ transplants often miss out on potential donors,” he added.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport, Robert Troy TD added: “Medical professionals, and the families of people who want to donate their organs, need to be given this information as soon as possible.

“Delays can cost lives.”

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Inaction by Minister Ross on sharing of Organ Donor information risking lives – Daly

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– Nearly 1,000,000 indicate on driving license they want to be an organ donor yet minister still refuses to allow access to this information by families and heath care professionals –
Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly has demanded a change in the law that would save more lives by allowing state agencies to share information on people who have indicated that they are willing to be organ donors. Nearly 1,000,000 people have indicated on their driving license that they want to be organ donors yet because of the minister’s inaction this information is unavailable to heath care professionals.

Senator Daly was commenting in advance of Organ Donor Week which starts on Tuesday.

He’s calling on the Transport Minister to allow medical professionals access to driving licence information so that they can establish if a driver license holder is an organ donor.  The government already allows licence details to be shared with other State bodies.

Senator Daly, who was nominated to the Seanad by the Irish Kidney Association, explained, “There are around 2.6 million driving licence holders in Ireland at the moment. Since 2013, driving licence applicants have been asked if they would they be willing to be an organ donor. However, doctors and medical professionals are currently not allowed to access this information.  This means that those involved in the facilitation of organ transplants often miss out on potential donors.

“The Minister for Transport needs to act. It is unacceptable and short sighted not to allow driving license information that could save and transform lives be shared with medical professionals involved in organ donation. The research shows that if a family is informed by a heath care professional that their loved one indicated on a driving license that they wanted to be an organ donor, consent to donate an organ increase to 92%.

“The government allows driving licence details to be shared with other State bodies such as the Courts Service, the Road Safety Authority and the Health and Safety Authority, and most recently Minister Ross allowed access to a private company – E-Flow to assist the management of the M50”.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport, Robert Troy TD added, “Medical professionals, and the families of people who want to donate their organs, need to be given this information as soon as possible.  Delays can cost lives.

“This is another example of Minister Ross’s inaction. This is an important yet simple change, and I feel the government’s laissez faire approach to this issue is not acceptable”.

Senator Daly concluded, “I am calling on Minister Ross to make the simple legislative changes that are needed to streamline and speed up the organ donation process”.

 

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