Submission to the National Risk Assessment 2019 Deputy Sean Fleming & Senator Mark Daly

The full submission can be view here Submission to the 2019 Draft Risk Assessment 

Executive Summary

A key element of the state’s future planning is the annual National Risk Assessment. To quote the Taoiseach in his own words in the 2018 National Risk Assessment: Overview of Strategic Risks, the risk assessment “aims to counteract ‘group think’ and to ensure all parts are heard by Government.”[1]

Since the first National Risk Assessment report was published in 2014, these assessments have called attention to a number of risks that subsequently became major issues for society including Brexit, risks to EU stability, international terrorism, global warming, and risks around cyber security and housing supply. There is no mention by the government of the issues of a referendum on uniting Ireland in the 2018 National Risk Assessment signed by the Taoiseach or the 2019 Draft National Risk Assessment.

In a reply to a parliamentary question by Sean Fleming TD on the 12th of March 2019 as to why the issue of a referendum on a new agreed Ireland was not in the National Risk Assessment produced by the Taoiseach’s Department the Taoiseach replied “Although a border poll would not be regarded as a risk, and the very important and sensitive policy issue related to it would not be dealt with in the Risk Assessment process”.

While the topic of the possibility of a referendum on Scottish independence is mentioned in the section of the National Risk Assessment report titled ‘Instability in Northern Ireland’, the possibility of a referendum on a New Agreed Ireland is not mentioned. This is concerning given that the Taoiseach spoke about his desire to achieve a New Agreed Ireland on the 2nd of January 2018 as reported by CNN. “In terms of a United Ireland, our constitution is clear on this….Our constitution aspires to there being a united Ireland. I share that aspiration.”[2]

In a reply to another parliamentary question from Sean Fleming TD, the Tánaiste stated, “In the event of a future referendum within the consent provisions of the Good Friday Agreement, the Government would make all necessary preparations in accordance with the terms of the Constitution and the principles and procedures of the Agreement.” One lesson we have learned from Brexit is that you do not hold a referendum without the necessary preparation.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar set himself a challenge of engaging with everyone about the future of the whole island at his address to the 20th anniversary of The Good Friday Agreement, in the U.S. Library of Congress.

“There is now a particular onus on those of us who currently hold the responsibility of political leadership. We are a new generation. It is time for us to step forward and play our part. That is why we must engage young people in the future of our island. In the months and years ahead, I for one want to engage with the next generation – the Agreement Generation – to build on those achievements…Our mission now is to imagine the next twenty years. Not only to imagine it, but then to build it.”[3]

Senator Mark Daly wrote to the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, all Ministers, Secretary Generals of all government departments, and the chairs of their Audit Committees and their Risk Committees to ask that they address the issue of a New Agreed Ireland in the National Risk Assessment and send copies of any policy plans. He received two responses addressing the request and thirteen acknowledgements of receipt of his correspondence. None of the responses included any discussion of having a New Agreed Ireland in the National Risk Assessment.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney TD has also said, “I would like to see a united Ireland in my lifetime. If possible, in my political Iifetime.”[4] However, when asked in a parliamentary question by Sean Fleming TD on the 12th of March 2019 why the issue of a referendum on a New Agreed Ireland was not on his department’s risk register or if his department risk committee had examined the issue the Minister could only say “In the event of a referendum within the consent provisions of the Good Friday Agreement, the government would make all necessary preparations in accordance with the terms of the constitution and the principal and procedures of the Agreement”.[5] The full questions and replies can be found in the appendix.

The Brexit referendum has taught us an important lesson: you do not hold a referendum until there is debate and discussion with all sides and all necessary preparations are made. It is widely known that policy neglect seldom goes unpunished and this is very true of the lack of policy preparation for a New Agreed Ireland by the Government.

Voices as diverse as those of the British Prime Minister; former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Congressman Paul Ryan; DUP leader Arlene Fosters; and Lady Sylvia Herman, MP for North Down, have all spoken about the issue of a Referendum on a New Agreed Ireland or a New Agreed Ireland.

There would be economic consequences due to the lack of policy planning by the Government around a New Agreed Ireland.  Research by economists John FitzGerald of Trinity College Dublin and Edgar Morgenroth of Dublin City University shows that continued government inaction in relation to Irish reunification could come at a high price for the Republic, reducing income and living standards by as much as 15 percent.[6]

 

Gunther Thumann, a senior economist at the Germany desk for the IMF during German reunification, issued a report on the true income and expenditure of Northern Ireland in a reunification scenario. His assessment shows that the current reported budget deficit in Northern Ireland could come close to balanced in a re-unification scenario. Other research such as ‘Modelling Irish Unification’ was compiled by Dr Kurt Hubner of the University of British Columbia. It states that ‘political and economic unification of the North and South would likely result in a sizable boost in economic output and incomes in the North and a smaller boost in the ROI.’[7] However, this research and analysis was published in 2015 before Brexit. In 2018 Dr Kurt Hubner collaborated with Dr Renger Van Nieuwkoop to publish research entitled ‘The Cost of Non-Unification: Brexit and the Unification of Ireland’ which showed that over seven years, the unification of Ireland could benefit the country by €23.5 billion. The Irish Government should carry out its own cost benefit analysis in relation to the status quo and reunification.

 

The challenge facing the Irish Government or any economist trying to predict the financial benefits and costs of reunification is best explained by Gunther Thumann when he outlines all the information available. Germany is still not able to say definitively the cost of unification.

 

Perhaps more surprisingly estimates of the costs of unification continue to differ significantly even years after the event. For instance, data published by the IFO Dresden, the University of Halle and Klaus Schroeder FU Berlin 25 years after Re-Unification put net transfers per annum (over the period 1991-2014) at EUR68 billion (IFO), EUR54 billion (Halle) and EUR83 billion (FU), respectively.”[8]

 

In 2017 the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement published its report entitled ‘Brexit & the Future of Ireland: Uniting Ireland & Its People in Peace & Prosperity’. That report is the first report by a Dáil or Senate Committee on the steps required to achieve a United Ireland as stated in articles 2 & 3 of the constitution and as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement. The recommendations of the report should now be implemented by the government as a matter of extreme urgency.

Despite the unanimous adoption of these recommendations in July 2017 by the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, none of these key recommendations have been carried out by the government to date.

 

We would recommend that the issue of the economic impact of a referendum on a new agreed Ireland would be included as part of the 2019 National Risk Assessment.

Overview of the National Risk Assessment Process

[1] 2018 National Risk Assessment Overview of Strategic Risks, P.4 https://assets.gov.ie/2405/261018155017-8828303ace924307816fda25dde8811c.pdf

[2] https://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/02/europe/varadkar-united-ireland-intl/index.html

[3] https://merrionstreet.ie/en/News-Room/Speeches/Speech_by_An_Taoiseach_Leo_Varadkar_T_D_at_the_Good_Friday_Agreement_20th_Anniversary_event_Capitol_Hill_Washington_DC_13_March_2018.html

[4]https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/joint_committee_on_the_implementation_of_the_good_friday_agreement/2017-11-23/2/

[5] https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2019-03-12/section/76/

[6] https://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/united-ireland-would-see-living-standards-in-republic-fall-by-15-1.3629748

[7] https://prcg.com/modeling-irish-unification/report.pdf

[8] https://senatormarkdaly.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/research-on-northern-ireland-income-and-expenditure-1.pdf

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Research report with Senior economist at the German desk of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) during German reunification showing Northern Ireland has near balance budget in unification scenario

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In July 2018 Senator Daly and Gunther Thumann compiled research for the Good Friday Agreement Implementation Committee on the true income and expenditure of Northern Ireland in a reunification situation. The information analysed by Daly & Thumann shows that, in fact, the current reported deficit for the Northern Ireland budget could come close to a balanced budget in a re-unification scenario.

Gunther Thumann worked as a senior economist at the German desk of the International Monetary Fund IMF at the time of German reunification.

– Thumann argues in his research that pensions would initially be the responsibility of the British Government as the pension liability was accrued while Northern Ireland was part of the United Kingdom.

– Non-identifiable expenditure of £2.9billion includes Northern Ireland’s share of UK Defence Expenditure, UK Debt Interest, International service, UK contribution to the EU, British Royal family etc. These would not be a liability of a new agreed Ireland.

– Thumann in his research explains that not all the accounting adjustments figure attribute by Westminster to Northern Ireland of £1.1billion would be applicable in a reunification scenario either.

– Also the convergence of the public service numbers between the north and the south would bring a saving of £1.7billion per annum in the current budget expenditure of Northern Ireland.

Taking the above adjustments and savings into account the cumulative figure is £8.5 billion. With the reported deficit for Northern Ireland is at £9.2 billion therefore the current income and expenditure figure for Northern Ireland Thumann & Daly concludes comes near a balanced budget in a reunification scenario. This is of course, before taking into account the likely potential for growth in Northern Ireland following unification as happened in East Germany following its reunification.

 

This proposal was based on one of the key recommendations of the first report in the history of the Dail or Senate compiled by Senator Mark Daly called ‘Brexit & the Future of Ireland Uniting Ireland & its People in Peace & Prosperity’ which was adopted unanimously by the committee.

 

Gunther Thumann worked as a senior economist at the German desk of the International Monetary Fund IMF at the time of German reunification.

Senator Mark Daly and Gunther Thumann have compile research for the Good Friday Agreement Implementation Committee on the true income and expenditure of Northern Ireland in a reunification situation. The information analysed by Daly & Thumann shows that, in fact, the current reported deficit for the Northern Ireland budget could come close to a balanced budget in a re-unification scenario.

The Report is Available in Full research-on-northern-ireland-income-and-expenditure (1)

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Research Report “Brexit and the future of Ireland, uniting Ireland & its people in peace & prosperity”

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Below is the executive summary and recommendations for the report on Brexit & The Future of Ireland, Uniting Ireland and its People in Peace & Prosperity.  Links to each of the seven sections are also below.

The Report and all its recommendations are available here in a 1 page document United Ireland and its People in Peace and Prosperity Report 1 Pager

Introduction
“The EU needs to prepare for a united Ireland.”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny July 2016
Niall O’Connor the political journalist for the                                                                                Irish Independent
Reporting from the McGill Summer School in July 2016

As a result of this statement by the Taoiseach it is also clear that Ireland needs to
prepare for a united Ireland. The Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good
Friday Agreement in its work programme approved by Dáil Éireann appointed Senator
Mark Daly as rapporteur to compile a report on the effect of Brexit on Ireland, what
Ireland should seek to have in the final agreement between the EU and the UK,
particularly in the event of the people of Northern Ireland voting for a united Ireland andwhat Ireland needs to do in order to peacefully achieve its constitutional obligation, as described by Attorney General Brady (2002-07), of a united Ireland, as outlined in

Article 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution

The report for the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday
Agreement has seven sections;

Contents

Section 1 : Brexit & its impact on Ireland

Section 2 & 3 : Precedent of German Reunification for Ireland & Economic Modelling of Unification

Section 4 : Brexit and the Future for Ireland

Section 5 : Good Friday Agreement

Section 6 : Referendum as Provided for in the Good Friday Agreement

Section 7 : Constitutional & Legal Changes Before & After a Referendum

Annexes

All the recommendations for each of the seven sections are at the end of this
introduction, as are all the seven summaries that relate to them. The report to the
Joint Committee also serves as a reference document and includes online copies of Acts and Agreements relating to Ireland and Britain from the Act of Union to the Good Friday Agreement.

High Court Justice Richard Humphreys book ‘Countdown to Unity’ is quoted from
extensively in Senators Daly’s Report. Justice Humphrey’s publication lays out the road
map to the peaceful unity of Ireland and its people. It outlines the various options for the
future of this island and the opportunities and the obstacles that are ahead to achieve the
aim of a peaceful united Ireland which was approved by 94% of the citizens of this state
in a referendum. Other than the New Ireland Forum of 1984, 33 years ago, the Library
and Research Service of Leinster House were unable to find any report by any previous
Government, Department or Oireachtas Committee on how the state would achieve its
core belief of a united Ireland, an objective supported by 79 per cent of people in an
opinion poll in 2016.

Professor Emeritus of Humboldt University in Berlin, Christain Tomuschat’s submission
to the report outlines the precedent in German unification for Northern Ireland’s
automatic inclusion in the EU without the need for an application or accession process
in the event of a vote for reunification.

White House, National Security Council, Senior Policy Advisor on counter terrorism in
President Obamas administration, Michael R. Ortiz has also written a paper for Senator
Daly’s report on the threat of future paramilitary violence attempting to subvert a
referendum and reunification as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement. Michael
Ortiz was the first U.S. diplomat focused on countering violent extremism and was
appointed by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Congressman Brendan Boyle a member of the US House of Representatives Foreign
Relations Committee has submitted a specially commissioned research paper from
the United States Congressional Research Office which is included in this report. This
analyses the true nature of the income and expenditure of Northern Ireland. A report
by Dr. Kurt Hubner of the University of British Columbia shows a reunification scenario
with a boost of 35.6billion euro over eight years to an all island economy. The report for
the Joint Committee also includes elements of the UK House of Lords report on Brexit;
UK- Irish Relations with a particular focus on the common travel area, including
proposals to ensure the continued free movement of people across the border with
Northern Ireland. The economic challenges of Brexit and unification are outlined in
various reports including some from the House of the Oireachtas Library and Research
Service, a key one of these is the analysis of the United Nations Human Development
Index, which measures health, education, and income. The UN report ranks Ireland as
8th in the world alongside Germany, Canada and the United States. In Northern
Ireland’s case the analysis places it 44th in the world alongside the likes of Hungry and
Montenegro. As a result of Brexit, Northern Ireland is likely to drop below 50th joining
the likes of Kazakhstan and Belarus.

This report includes submissions by various politicians, academics and experts from
Ireland, England, Germany and the United States who have given generously of their
time and their experience to assist Senator Daly in compiling it, the first by any
committee of the Irish parliament on how to achieve a united Ireland.

To conclude we include an extract from ‘Irish man of the 20th century’ T K
Whittaker’s‘Note on North-South Border Policy’ written on the 11 November 1968 the
eve of ‘The Troubles’. In it he foresaw the Good Friday Agreement, the long term
nature of achieving a united Ireland, that it required the best of ourselves and a
collective understanding.

 

‘We were, therefore, left with only one choice, a policy of seeking unity in Ireland between Irishmen. Of its nature this is a long-term policy, requiring patience, understanding and forbearance and resolute resistance to emotionalism and opportunism. It is not the less patriotic for that’

Summary of Recommendations

Section 1 Recommendations

The Irish government must negotiate for Northern Ireland to be
designated with special status within the EU and for the whole island
of Ireland to have a unique solution as part of the Brexit negotiation.

If current EU funding programmes cannot be protected then the
eligibility of Northern Ireland for receipt of EU Structural funds and
other funding schemes and mechanisms must be clarified as a matter
of urgency, to help underpin the peace process.

The Report on the All-Ireland Economy: compiled in 2016 by Peadar
Tóibín TD for the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and
Innovation in the light of Brexit should be updated.

Any passport controls between Ireland and the UK should be along the
same basis as for people traveling between these islands from 1939 to
1952. There should not be a return to passport controls on the borders
between the North and South of Ireland.

Given the likely impact on certain categories, including women, in border
counties and employment in these areas there is a need for impact
analysis on these sectors of society

Further research into the income and expenditure for Northern Ireland
should be carried out

Section 2 Recommendations

Welcome the declaration agreed to by the European Council on 29 April
2017 which provides for Northern Ireland automatically becoming part of
the EU in the event of a future united Ireland.

This declaration known in Brussels as ‘The Kenny Text’ is similar to that
of Commission President Jacque Delors in January 1990 on the issue of
German Unification ‘East Germany is a special case’.
Section 3 Recommendations

It is recognised that World Trade Organisation rules and a hard border
would have a detrimental impact on Ireland North and South & Further
impact assessment is required on the economic impact of reunification.

The Committee urges that the matter of EU funding for Northern Ireland and
the border region remains high on the agenda and an expeditious solution is
found for successor programmes after 2020.

Section 4 Recommendations

The establishment of a New Ireland Forum 2 is recommended to set a
pathway to achieve the peaceful reunification of Ireland.

Establish an international task force with experts in security so that plans to
meet any risks may be devised and implemented.

Fears and concerns of the Unionist community need to be examined,
understood and addressed comprehensively by all stakeholders in advance
of any referendum.

The legacy issues in society outlined by Senator Frances Black and the
inter- generational impact of the troubles in terms of mental health
consequences and substance abuse needs to be addressed
Section 5 Recommendation

Explore potential solutions to resolve disputes that may arise from the
implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, as recommended by High Court
Justice Kevin Humphreys.

Section 6 Recommendation

Lessons from referendums need to be learned to ensure that the Irish
government fulfils its constitutional obligations.

Section 7 Recommendation

The Government needs to carry out an audit in relation to the
legal and constitutional changes pre and post-unification

Submissions and Appendices

Section 1 Submissions 

‘Irexit’ submission by Ray Bassett

‘Brexit and the Border’ Taoiseach Bertie Ahern

‘Northern Ireland and EU Funding versus EU Contribution’  John Teahan

‘UN Human Development Index’ by the Oireachtas Library and Research Service

Section 2 Submissions

‘The European Parliament and German Unification’ by Marc Birchen

 

Section 3 Submissions

‘Modelling Irish Unification’ by KLC Consulting

Section 4 Submissions

‘Ireland and the UK from 1916 to Brexit’ by Martin Mansergh

‘Understanding the ‘Northern Irish’ Identity’ by John Garry and Kevin McNicholl

‘Threat of Violence’ Pat Finucane Centre

‘Counter Terrorism’ by Michael Ortiz, Obama security Advisor

Congressional Friends of Ireland US political support

‘Lessons learned by German Unification’ by Christian Tomuschat

Note on North South Border policy by TK Whitaker

‘Political Party positions on the Unity of Northern Ireland

‘The Process of EU membership following German Unification’ by Dr. Marcus Kotzur

RJN Security Council report on operation in Cypress

‘South Korea Unification Process’ by Marcus Nolan

‘General Brady and Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution’ by the Oireachtas Library and Research Service

‘Irish Parliamentarian Attitudes to Irish Unification’ by Fr. Sean McGraw

‘Joint Sovereignty’ Oireachtas Research Service

Behaviour and Analysis poll results attitude to the future state

Red C poll results on the Unification of Ireland

‘End of the beginning, reflection on Brexit and prospects’ by Kevin Meagher

Section 5 Submissions

The Good Friday Peace Agreement

Section 6 Submissions

‘The reasons for the defeats of the 1980 and 1995 Referendums in Quebec on sovereignty’ by the Oireachtas Library and Research Service

‘Scottish Independence Referendum 2014’ House of Commons research paper

Section 7 Submissions

Every Treaty signed between Ireland and England

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Senator Daly calls on the Minister for Health to allow information sharing to help Organ Donation

Needless to say, I am disappointed that the Minister of Health is not here to discuss the issues of organ donation and organ donor awareness. The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, was also unable to come to take this matter. It is a matter of life and death for some. The specific issue I raised last year has not been advanced by either Minister. I thank Mr. Mark Murphy of the Irish Kidney Association for coming to listen to the response that will be given by the Department of Health, if not the Minister.

On 13 March I asked for the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to come to the House in order that we could find out why he had not signed the statutory instrument to allow the HSE access to the driving licence registry to see the names of people who had indicated on their driving licence that they would like to be an organ donor. He cited two reasons on that occasion, one of which was related to the issue of data protection under EU law, while the other was Brexit. He was too busy in dealing with it. In May 2018 we informed him that, according to research conducted by the Oireachtas Library and Research Service, he was able to share the data. The Schedule to the legislation could be amended to allow the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, under section 63 of the Finance Act, to make a regulation to make the database available. When the Minister, Deputy Ross, told us that he was not able to share the information because of EU data protection law, he was not aware that the previous Minister, Deputy Donohoe, had shared data in the driving licence registry with everybody, from car manufacturers to the Health and Safety Authority, the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland, eFlow, a private company, the Road Safety Authority, the National Transport Authority, the National Consumer Agency and the local authorities. People approved by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, commercial services and the office of the provost marshal of the military police have access to it. Tribunals of inquiry also have access to it, as do the Office of Official Assignees in Bankruptcy and the Courts Service, yet the HSE and the national transplant authority do not.

We asked the Minister to come in again and he has not shown up today but he replied on 22 March that it is not a data protection issue and the issue is the Department of Health has not requested that the national organ transplantation unit have access to information from the driver’s licence registry. A year ago, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, said that he would ask the HSE to give me its views and see if progress can be made in a constructive way. Has the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport engaged with the HSE on this issue and when will he be asked to sign the statutory instrument that will allow the HSE to have access to the drivers licence registry so that people will know if their loved ones want to be an organ donor?

It should be borne in mind that figures supplied by the Irish Kidney Association to me show that when asked by a professional in organ co-ordination and transplantation if they would consider donating their loved one’s organs, the figure internationally is approximately 52%. When supplied with information that their loved one wanted to be an organ donor, the organ donor rate in families increases to 92%. The only place we currently have a registry is in National Driver Licence Service. I have outlined all of the other organisations that have access to this registry. The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport is clearly blaming the Minister for Health and his Department by saying that they quite simply have not asked for this information.

Will the Department of Health ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport for this information in order that it will be available to healthcare professionals, organ donor co-ordinators and the families of the donors so that they can make an informed decision when considering to donate organs?

I thank the Senator for raising this issue and for the opportunity to speak on it in the Seanad on behalf of my colleague, Minister for Health.

It is appropriate that we are debating this issue during Organ Donor Awareness Week.

Organ donation is among the most selfless acts we can bestow on one another. The improvement in the quality of life for organ recipients and their families cannot be overstated. We have a duty to do everything we can to ensure that as many people as possible benefit from organ donation. Work is continuing to finalise the general scheme of a Human Tissue Bill and to deliver on the commitment in the programme for Government to provide for a soft opt-out system of consent for organ donation and an associated register.

The aim is to make organ donation the norm in Ireland in situations where the opportunity arises. Under the soft opt-out system, consent will be deemed, unless the person has, while alive, registered their wish not to become an organ donor after death. However, it is proposed that even though consent is deemed, the next-of-kin will always be consulted prior to removing any organ. If the next-of-kin objects to the organ donation, the donation will not proceed. The best way to ensure that a person’s wish to become an organ donor is realised is to have a conversation with one’s family and to make one’s wishes clearly known to them.

The proposed opt-out register for organ donation will create a clear and easily communicable choice to individuals to either opt-out of deceased organ donation entirely, or to allow deemed consent to apply. Signing up to the opt-out register will be a definitive expression of the person’s wish not to become an organ donor after death.

The Senator’s proposal to share code 115 on a driver’s licence in respect of organ donation with the HSE’s Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland would not guarantee that the person’s wish to become an organ donor would be carried out. This is also the situation in regard to organ donor cards. The decision to donate organs in the case of a deceased person rests with the next of kin. Health service personnel will not proceed to transplant organs without the permission of family members, irrespective of whether the deceased person carried an organ donor card or had ticked code 115 on their driving licence.

Furthermore, due to the need for medical practitioners to be informed about the medical history of the potential donor to ensure the safety of the recipient, the co-operation of the family will always be required as part of a safe organ donation process. An opt-out register will make organ donation the clear default option, and signal to citizens the move towards organ donation being the norm. The general scheme of a human tissue Bill is being finalised at present and will be submitted to Government shortly.

I do not want the Minister of State to take this personally, if that is not the worst answer I have heard to a question put in the Seanad, it is fairly close.

Some 1 million people in this country have registered that they would like to be to be organ donors. That information is available in the Government system. This will increase organ donor rates from 52% to 92% if the family are informed that their loved one wants to be an organ donor. The Government is saying it will not do this and make this information available to families, the health services or doctors and nurses so that families can be assisted in making one of the most traumatic decisions that anyone can ever make. When people sign up for a driver’s licence and indicate that they want to be an organ donor, they want to share that information.

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport is saying that it is available to the HSE if it asks. What the HSE, the Department of Health, the Minister for Health and the Minister of State are saying is that they do not want this information to be available to the doctors, nurses and the families.

As I stated earlier, this is not the worst reply I have ever heard in this House but it is pretty close. People are dying as they await organ transplants. It is costing the State hundreds of millions of euro in dialysis and so on with people waiting in the system and taking up beds. That is not the reason we should do it; the reason we should do it is it would save lives. If making that information available saved one life, would it not be worth doing? Yet the Department of Health is saying that it does not want this.

Has the Senator a question?

This is not the worst reply but it is pretty close.

I have no interest in engaging with the Senator in the politics that he wants to engage in on this issue. I want to distance myself from his interpretation of what I have said in suggesting that the Minister, the Department or I do not want this to proceed. He knows this is only playing politics with the issue and if he wants to do that, that is fine.

Let me be clear, I am not playing politics. This is not party politics or political—–

The Senator had an opportunity to put a supplementary question and he is being disorderly now.

—–but is about people who are waiting for organs. The Minister of State is just reading a reply—–

The Senator knows that he is not allowed to interrupt and he will have to find another way of pursuing this further. He is out of order.

—–that is prepared by the Department and I am just saying it is a terrible reply. Is that going to help somebody waiting on the transplant list?

I ask the Senator to please resume his seat and not to abuse this House.

I am not abusing this House. That reply is one of the worst I have ever heard.

I ask the Senator to resume his seat and obey the Chair. That is his opinion and he is entitled to it. I call the Minister of State again, without interruption.

The Government is totally committed to increasing organ donation and transplantation rates to the benefit the patients and their families. We welcome the Senator’s support for our efforts to increase the rate of deceased organ donation. Deceased organ donation, however, cannot proceed without the support of next of kin, as I outlined in my previous contribution, even in circumstances where the deceased person had an organ donor card or had indicated his or her wish to be an organ donor on his or her driver’s licence. The Minister’s proposals to introduce a soft opt-out system of consent for deceased organ donation are one of a number of measures being taken to increase transplant rates. The Department continues to work with HSE’s Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland, intensive care units, ICUs, and the transplant hotels, which are Beaumont, the Mater and St. Vincent’s hospitals, in building upon the achievements of recent years.

Improvements to our organ procurement service will continue to be achieved through improved infrastructure in ICUs, a more robust organ retrieval service, and through transplant centres achieving high conversion rates from opportunities that are presented. The legislation will be accompanied by a publicity campaign which will aim to ensure that individuals understand the opt-out system and to encourage individuals to have the conversation and make their wishes on organ donation known to their next of kin and to other family members.

Finally, I encourage everybody to consider becoming an organ donor and to make their loved ones aware of their intention in this regard.

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Work deaths Bill ‘needs action’

corporate-manslaughter-bill

The Corporate Manslaughter Bill, which has been making its way through the Oireachtas since 2016, is designed to plug a hole in the Irish statue books in relation to corporate accountability.

Fianna Fáil’s Mark Daly has insisted the Bill must be progressed and he raised the issue of corporate manslaughter in the Seanad as the jury in the Hillsborough trial retired to consider verdict.

‘This is a timely reminder of the need for corporate responsibility as we have seen many times before, unfortunately, through tragedy. This Bill is about addressing the current gap which exists within Irish law that fails to hold corporate entities and State agencies criminally liable for unlawful deaths that occurred as a result of their actions or negligence,’ said the senator.

A 2005 Law Reform Commission Report identified a gap in Irish legislation in relation to corporate manslaughter and recommended a similar Bill, the Criminal Justice (Corporate Manslaughter) Bill be introduced. But it was never progressed.

Senator Daly said the Bill currently before the Oireachtas will have the ability to hold corporations to account even in situations where no one individual is found to be responsible.

He added: ‘The Bill will also allow for prison terms to be handed down if a court deems it necessary. I believe that the real impact of passing this legislation will be felt by a change in outlook and approach among senior management.

‘If they can be held accountable for their actions or their failure to act, it may cause them to think and care more about their actions.’ In January the son of a victim of 1979’s Whiddy Island disaster accused the State of treating Irish workers as second-class citizens by failing to pass legislation on corporate manslaughter.

Attending a Mass to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the oil tanker fire disaster, in which 51 people died, Michael Kingston said that other people should not have to go through what his family had suffered.

The Government press office has not yet replied to a request for comment.

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