Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Organ donation: We need action... lives are at stake

Yesterday I, along with thousands of organ donation campaigners and supporters from across Northern Ireland, waited with bated breath for the Health Minister to make a statement to the Assembly.

Fortified in the knowledge that we had the personal support of the First and Deputy First Ministers for the soft opt-out system, we wanted to hear from Edwin Poots that he would hold true to his promise to bring forward legislation.

After all, the results of his Public Attitudes Survey have been with him since last October.

But, as he read the statement he walked further and further away from his previous support, leaving many both disappointed and angry.

My message to them is simple. If Edwin Poots is walking away from his previous commitments to implement this system, I most certainly am not and will continue to bring forward my Private Member's Bill.

For the life of me I cannot understand why the minister feels he needs to commission additional and no doubt expensive research when he has had the answers in front of him for over three months.

We need to give people hope, but sadly this statement gives them another 12 months to wait until we hear the minister's intentions.

It is simply not good enough and will leave many to wonder if the minister is really in control of his department, or is it the Civil Service mandarins?

We are now left in the perverse situation of the Health Minister failing to act on an issue which is personally supported by Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, who I requested a meeting with in a letter I sent to them on November 20.

I am calling on them both to meet with me and turn their personal support into Executive action.

People deserve a good news story from this Executive. Unfortunately lives are being put at risk by the Health Minister's continued failure to act.

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