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Máirtín Mac Gabhann with his son Dáithí at their family home in west Belfast
Daithi's Law

'Bigger than politics': Dáithí's father Máirtín Mac Gabhann accepts MBE for organ donation campaign

Mac Gabhann, from west Belfast, said it had not been an easy decision to accept the honour, but added that Dáithí’s campaign is ‘bigger than any political stance’.

ORGAN DONATION CAMPAIGNER Máirtín Mac Gabhann and PSNI detective John Caldwell, who survived a murder attempt last year, are among those from Northern Ireland recognised in the British King’s Birthday Honours list.

Mac Gabhann, whose son Dáithí inspired a change in organ donation rules in the North, is becoming a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

Mac Gabhann, from west Belfast, told the PA news agency it had not been an easy decision to accept the honour, but added that Dáithí’s campaign is “bigger than any political stance”.

Seven-year-old Dáithí, who has battled hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), has been waiting for a new heart for more than six years.

His father said: “To me this is acknowledging the impact of Dáithí’’s campaign and the legislative success of Dáithí’s Law, which has just passed a year and it is saving lives.

“I believe this reflects the positive change that we have facilitated in our society and is promoting the importance of organ donation and saving lives.

“That is what our campaign has always been about.”

He added: “Throughout the campaign I have been very careful to separate any of my personal politics for our mission.

“This is bigger than me personally and Dáithí’s campaign has always been about something greater than any political stance.”

PSNI Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell survived a murder bid when he was shot several times by dissident republicans in Co Tyrone last year.

He has been awarded the King’s Police Medal.

PSNI Chief Constable Jon Boutcher said: “The officers and staff of the PSNI continue to face such threats and this particular award is a recognition of John’s police service, and his bravery and that of his family.

“Despite the despicable attack that bravery and selfless courage has continued to shine through.

“I know that the support received from the public has been tremendous and, for this, we extend a heartfelt thanks.

Bronagh Hinds, who helped to found the Women’s Coalition political party in 1996, said that she had struggled with accepting her nomination to become a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), but said she had done so to help promote the message of reconciliation and inclusion.

She is recognised for services to peace and promoting women’s rights.

She said: “We had a lot of women contributing to the Women’s Coalition so I see this award not just for me but a recognition of the many, many women across Northern Ireland who have been working on women’s rights.”

Meanwhile, policewoman Clodagh Dunlop, who defied the odds to beat locked-in syndrome, has been made an MBE for her campaigning work to reform stroke services in Northern Ireland.

Dunlop, 45, walked back into full-time work with the police 18 months after suffering a devastating stroke, and a year after being told she might always be confined to an electric wheelchair.

Discussing her campaigning work, she said: “It became a passion for me, I wanted to change things for people.

“People told me I had a great story, but when you live it, it’s pretty horrendous.

“I had a passion to prevent anyone else ever having my experience.”

Also becoming an MBE is Lindsay Robinson, who campaigned to establish perinatal mental health services in Northern Ireland.

She said: “I’m just really humbled. I am still not sure I quite believe it. It is so wonderful and so kind of whoever nominated me. I’m still quite in shock.

“I think it was a team effort to get the specialist services up and running.

“While my name is on this and I am very honoured, this is a team effort.”

Also becoming a CBE is Roy Bailie, the chairman of NI Opera.

He said he was “completely overwhelmed” at being recognised for services to the economy and opera in Northern Ireland.

Professor Donna Fitzsimons, head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University in Belfast, said she was “genuinely blown away” after learning she was to become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to healthcare and education.

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