Speech: Senator Daly calls on the Government to allow progress on the Corporate Manslaughter Bill

In the coming weeks, Fianna Fáil will propose an amendment to the Order of Business in respect of the issue of corporate manslaughter. The relevant legislation was first proposed by the Law Reform Commission in 2005 as a result of the hepatitis C scandal in which blood products which were contaminated with hepatitis C were knowingly distributed to women. Thousands of women were infected and hundreds died as a result, yet no one went to prison. The man who knew the blood products were contaminated did nothing about it. I raise this issue again because we have brought our Bill forward again. The officials in the Department of Justice and Equality have refused to meet me, despite the Minister’s pledges that they would do so. They have concerns about the Bill. The part they are concerned about is that under which people would actually go to prison as a result of corporate manslaughter. In the North, there were arrests over incidents at a nightclub. We have seen court action resulting from the Hillsborough tragedy in which nearly 100 Liverpool fans died as a result of corporate neglect on the part of the police. The person in charge is facing prosecution and possible conviction. If the hepatitis C scandal happened again, nobody would go to prison because the Government has refused to allow the legislation to move forward. I wish to ask the Leader why that is the case. I suspect it is because many senior officials in a lot of Departments are afraid that at some stage they might face prosecution under the legislation as a result of their inaction.

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Speech: Senator Daly calls on the Minister for housing to explain the 10,000 homeless

Under this Government, we have reached the tragic landmark of 10,000 people being homeless . I note the continuous activity masquerading as action on the part of the Minister with responsibility for homelessness. I would call him the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he was providing any, but we will just have to call it as it is. On his watch, homelessness has become an acceptable face of Government policy. We will be looking for another debate on this issue. It goes with other promises like Fine Gael’s pledge to end the trolley crisis. We need to hear what the Minister has to say for himself about this issue.

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Speech- Senator Daly calls on Minister Ross to allow organ donation information sharing

I thank my county colleague for coming before the House to take this matter on behalf of the Minister. I raised it over six months ago and I raise it again today. Two weeks ago, I tabled the matter for a Commencement debate and then received a reply by email from the Minister. He was only able to come in on that occasion. In the reply to which I refer, he explained why it is not possible for his Department to share on driver licences held by people in this country information to the effect that they want to be organ donors. A person is asked this question as part of the application process, and the response is printed on the licence in the form of a code, 115, which indicates that the person wants to be an organ donor. The Minister stated that under EU rules on data protection, we would need the permission of applicants to share their data. He also indicated that the difficulty was that people had not been asked if they were willing to have this data shared with a third party such as the HSE and that it would not be possible to share it without their consent. He was obviously unaware that he had already allowed his Department to share data from the driver licence registry with private companies such as eFlow and people who clamp vehicles. The Department had also shared the data with the Garda and the Courts Service, as it should have done. However, he stated at the time that data protection rules would not allow him to share the data with the HSE. That was not true. I have with me a copy of the statutory instrument that would allow him to share the data with the HSE. He has signed similar instruments for all the other bodies, including the courts, clamping companies and private operators such as eFlow to which I referred.

We have discovered from the Irish Kidney Association that sharing these data with healthcare professionals is important because of their ability to share the data with the families of loved ones who are potential donors. Only approximately 300 families find themselves in this situation in any given year. If specialist nurses are not involved in talking to families, only 22% will offer their loved ones’ organs to be donated. If, however, a specialist nurse who is a transplant co-ordinator asks a family, the figure increases to 52%. Furthermore, if the family is informed, and it is shown, that their loved one wanted to be an organ donor, this increases to 92%. We would therefore go from about 50-50 to 92% if the Minister would only sign the statutory instrument to allow the HSE access to this information. Since we have highlighted this issue in the media, the change in the Minister’s response has been interesting. At first he stated that because of European rules, he cannot share the data. Then it was pointed out that actually he had shared the data already. He has now come back with a new reply stating it is up to the Department of Health to ask for the data.

Our request, and I hope the Cathaoirleach will allow it, is that during Organ Donor Awareness Week, which is next week, the Minister for Health come in and indicate why he has not requested the information from the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. Perhaps the Minister of State might use his good offices to ask that this simple process whereby the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport would share the data and the Department of Health would ask for the data be followed in order that when families are faced with the traumatic situation whereby they lose a loved one, they would have the information at hand to the effect that their loved one wanted to be an organ donor. The number of people who have indicated on their driver licences that they want to be organ donors is reaching 1 million. This information is available to everyone else – clampers, the courts and the Garda – but it is not available to the families of the loved ones facing a decision that is traumatic and extreme but that can transform and save the lives of many people.

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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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