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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 10 December, 2019
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Senator accused of ‘talking through his derriere’ and ‘invoking memory of Bobby Ewing’

The Seanad is debating an emergency motion to annul legislation on organ transplantation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwSACUD_sdo

YouTube: Hugh O’Connell

Updated 11.59pm

THE SEANAD IS debating a special motion to annul an EU directive on organ transplants – signed into Irish law a year ago – which a Fianna Fáil senator claims is flawed.

The European Union (Quality and Safety of Human Organs Intended for Transplantation) Regulations 2012 is being debated in a special session of the upper house today after Fianna Fáil senator Mark Daly secured a debate on the law.

Opening the debate, the leader of Fianna Fáil in the Seanad, Darragh O’Brien, said that though there was no prospect of the legislation being annulled a “proper focus [has been] brought to bare on this whole area of organ transplantation” because of the debate.

The Minister of State for Primary Care Alex White is representing the government with Health Minister James Reilly on holiday. Daly and Fianna Fáil faced criticism from the Fine Gael leader in the Seanad, Maurice Cummins, who said the recall is a “political stunt”.

He said that in signing the EU directive Ireland has “signed up to a clear legal framework” on organ transplants “the aim of which is to ensure the safety and quality of organs as well as the protection of organ donors and recipients”.

Bobby Ewing

Cummins said he hoped senators will speak about the directive and the regulations it lays out and not confuse this debate with that about an opt-in or opt-out system for organ donations.

Independent senator Jillian van Turnhout said she supported a motion to recall the house last year but said she was not supporting it this year as the past 12 months had afforded ample opportunity to debate Ireland’s organ transplant system including in two Oireachtas debates.

“Part of me wonders, it’s almost as if Senator Daly is trying to invoke the memory of Bobby Ewing [a character in 'Dallas'] stepping out of the shower and forgetting that the past year has happened,” she told senators (see video above).

Later, her fellow independent Dr John Crown recalled the ‘Who Shot Jr?’ plotline in ‘Dallas’ and asked: “Where is JR? Why is the Minister himself (James Reilly) not here to answer this charge?”

Fianna Fáil senator Terry Leyden said that the Attorney General’s advice – that any attempt to recall the Dáíl an annul the legislation would be illegal – was itself “absolutely flawed”. He said that Mark Daly “has done the State a great service”.

Fine Gael Senator Colm Burke said that in 2000 there were 150 people waiting for kidney transplants, by 2010 it was over 650 and acknowledged that there are issues that need to be addressed.

He said that there are over 1,828 people on dialysis in Ireland, costing €118 million every year but said that the legislation being debated in the Seanad is not related to this.

‘Derriere’

Sinn Féin senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh said there was an onus on legislators to deal with the issue in its entirety and that any discussion about organ transplants should address the larger issue of healthcare provision in Ireland.

Fine Gael senator Jim Daly said that he had met former GAA star and living donor Joe Brolly recently who, he claimed, agreed with him that Daly was “talking through his derriere”. He said if the legislation is annulled there will be no “objective quality and safety standards” for transplants.

Independent senator Rónán Mullen said that time afford to the concerns of private members is “paltry” and therefore the recall of the upper house was welcome. Earlier his fellow independent, Katherine Zappone, said that there was no rationale for having two authorities dealing with organ transplants.

Fianna Fáil senator Mary White said that the recall of the Seanad had been a victory for the house, for Daly, and those awaiting transplants.

First published 10.51am

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More: Seanad to debate annulling organ transplant law that cannot be annulled

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Hugh O'Connell

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