As the Stormont stalemate continues, amendments to the Westminster Act bring into force the “Dicey Act”.
UK government moves to pass Northern Ireland organ donation law stalled in post-Brexit political disputes.
Northern Ireland’s Secretary of State Chris Heaton Harris confirmed on Monday that he will submit an amendment to the law set to pass parliament aimed at incorporating the Organs Act.
Due to the political stalemate over Brexit trade deals, the Organ and Tissue Donation (Deemed Consent) Act 2022 (Northern Ireland), known as the ‘Daisy Act’, could not pass the final hurdle in parliament. I could not do it.
This will change the system of organ donation to an opt-out system, where everyone is assumed to be willing to donate unless they formally opt out or are exempt.
It is named after Dáithí MacGabhann, a 6-year-old Belfast boy who waited 5 years for a heart transplant.
That child became the name and face of his parents’ successful campaign to increase the number of donors through changes in the law.
Announcing the ‘exceptional’ Westminster move, Heaton-Harris said:
“I know the leaders of Northern Ireland feel the same way.
“Recognizing how important this issue is, I am proposing an amendment to the Executive Formation Bill to enable the enactment of the expired legislation by the NI Department of Health and to make this legislation change a reality. I have decided to submit.
“I reiterate that if the amendments are adopted, the UK government’s intervention here would be exceptional.”
“I urge both parties to take the necessary steps to address all other very important measures, such as this one, that can be achieved in Northern Ireland simply by agreeing to restore the system. I urge you to.”
The Northern Ireland minister personally called Dáithí MacGabhann’s father Mairtin on Sunday to update him on the developments.
Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster on Monday, Mr McGovern said his son had now “solidified his legacy”.
“To be honest, it’s very difficult to put my feelings into words. It’s a very emotional day for us,” he said.
“It’s been an incredibly difficult few weeks. Everything is there, Daishi’s Law and Daishi is in the hospital, and I got a call late last night from Chris Heaton Harris. He said it was exceptional. Yes, exceptional, our Daishi is exceptional.
“So we’re overjoyed to be honest. It’s really unbelievable.”
He added: I think he probably has a sore ear this morning because I yelled at him on the phone.
“If he didn’t hear it on the phone, if he was in London, he probably heard it from Belfast. It was that loud.”
MacGabhann said he was filled with pride in his son.
“He’s six years old and has already cemented his legacy,” he said.
“I’m so proud to be his daddy.”
The plight of a 6-year-old heart transplant patient has become a touchstone in the political debate over post-Brexit Northern Ireland.
an ongoing stalemate
Attempts to revive parliament and pass the law fell through last week when the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) vetoed again to block the election of the speaker.
The region’s main trade union parties are boycotting power-sharing institutions in protest of the Brexit Northern Ireland protocol.
Rival political parties tried to increase pressure on the DUP to end the boycott of the devolution, but the Union Party thwarted two more attempts to elect a speaker on the floor last Tuesday.
The DUP argued that the regulations needed to implement an opt-out donation system could instead be passed in Westminster, where power-sharing continues in Belfast.
The party says it will not return to devolution until decisive action is taken to remove the Protocol’s economic barriers to trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Negotiations between the UK government and the EU to resolve disagreements over the protocol continue amid speculation that a deal may be imminent.
An opt-out organ donation system passed the MLA last year, but due to the current political stalemate, the secondary legislation needed to implement it will not be approved by Congress.
The DUP planned to introduce amendments to the Government’s Executive Formation Bill to expedite the passage of the regulation.
However, Heaton Harris said the government will introduce its own amendments when the bill is introduced in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
PA contributed to this report.