Dáith's Law: Support for new organ donation laws from MPs is anticipated

Dalia MacGabhann

The family of a six-year-old boy from Northern Ireland who needs a heart transplant is traveling to Westminster where lawmakers are expected to support new organ donation laws.

The passage of Dáith's Law, which bears Dáith Mac Gabhann's name, was postponed because of the political impasse in Stormont.

However, a last-minute intervention by the UK government will now guarantee the implementation of a new opt-out system.

By doing so, Northern Ireland's laws will be consistent with those of the rest of the UK.

The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill, which is being debated in the Commons on Wednesday, will be amended, according to Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton Harris.

The government's intervention, according to Mr. Heaton-Harris earlier this week, is an "exceptional" case and is being made "in recognition of just how important this issue is.".

Last month, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) prevented the election of a speaker, which led to the failure of an attempt to pass organ donor laws at Stormont.

The DUP is protesting the Northern Ireland Protocol, a set of post-Brexit trade regulations, by abstaining from participating in institutions where power is shared. It denotes a year in which Northern Ireland has been without a government.

The deadline for holding new assembly elections in Northern Ireland will be extended as a result of the (Northern Ireland Executive Formation) bill, which is anticipated to pass all of its Commons stages on Wednesday.

It will push back the deadline for Stormont to form an executive until 18 January of the following year, and it will push back an election for the Assembly until at least 11 April.

The achievement of this goal remains Mr. Heaton-Harris' top priority. "The people of Northern Ireland deserve to have a fully-functioning devolved government working on the important issues impacting them," he said in a statement.

"This bill provides the time and room necessary to concentrate efforts on restoring Stormont and for UK-EU negotiations to result in a decision on the NI Protocol that satisfies the needs of people throughout Northern Ireland. .

"The bill also calls for the implementation of an opt-out system for organ donation. Although I appreciate and value the government's extraordinary intervention, I am disappointed that the NI Assembly's locally elected officials did not make the choice. ".

The Mac Gabhann family will observe the Commons proceedings.

The only region of the UK without an opt-out system for organ donation is Northern Ireland.

The Stormont assembly first heard Dáith's Law in 2021, and it was approved in its final form in February of that same year.

It would imply that, unless they specifically stated otherwise, every adult in Northern Ireland would be regarded as a potential organ donor after their passing.

The need for additional legislation to define which organs and tissues were covered by the opt-out system, however, was revealed last month.

Learn more about Dáith's Law and the reasons for its postponement.

By 6 March, the bill may have gone through every stage of the legislative process.

The opt-out system could then be implemented in Northern Ireland after a lead-in period of three months, which would put it in place by the start of the summer.

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