Belfast Telegraph

Organ donation challenge defeated

Senators have rejected calls to overturn Ireland's controversial organ donation laws after meeting to debate the issue during their summer recess.

The Government narrowly won a motion on an EU directive on organ donation after Cathaoirleach Paddy Burke was left with the casting vote.

The Seanad was recalled a month early when Fianna Fail's Mark Daly secured 20 signatures from members who supported his campaign to examine a directive that was enshrined into Irish law last August.

The debate lasted several hours before the votes tied at 22 for each side, forcing Mr Burke to intervene to break the deadlock.

Junior health minister Alex White argued the EU regulations set out a clear legal framework for quality and safety standards for organs intended for transplantation.

"There is absolutely no reason to annul this," he appealed to senators in the chamber.

"Apart from putting Ireland in conflict with European legislation, such an approach would remove the statutory basis for vital aspects of a quality system for an organ donation and transplantation service, thus exposing the citizens of our country to unnecessary risks.

"We all, I believe, have the same goal here - a high quality, safe, and functional organ donation and transplantation system which is of the highest international standard."

Mr Daly, who was nominated to the Seanad by the Irish Kidney Association, argued the law is flawed and wanted it overturned on the basis that they should have created a single national authority for organ transplants.

He also wanted the legislation annulled on the basis Health Minister James Reilly signed off on it without debate and months before the Oireachtas health committee held the relevant hearings.

The recall of the Seanad, which was not due to return until September, comes ahead of a referendum on its abolition in October.

Minister Reilly, who had signed the legislation, was not at the debate which his Fine Gael party had dismissed as a political stunt.

Fianna Fail also campaigned to have the Dail recalled, but despite getting support from fellow opposition party Sinn Fein, it was unable to get support from enough TDs.

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