Health minister accuses DUP of blocking organ donation legislation

Robin Swann

Q Radio News/PA

Northern Ireland’s health minister has accused the DUP of blocking new legislation around organ donation.

Robin Swann is proposing a Bill that would mean people automatically became donors unless they specifically say otherwise.

Northern Ireland remains the last part of the UK without a soft opt-out system.

Under current law, organ donation proceeds only where someone has given their express consent, such as having signed the Organ Donor Register.

Mr Swann voiced frustration at the blockage to the legislation on Thursday when it was again not approved by the Stormont Executive.

He said that if it is not approved soon there will not be enough time left in this Assembly mandate for it to become law.

“This is the challenge I’ve put to the Executive, I’ve now written twice to the first and deputy first ministers even looking at urgent procedure to get this to the next stage,” he added. 

“It is frustrating for me as a minister, this issue was first brought to the assembly in 2016.”

He said he believes the DUP is opposed to the law changing as a “point of principle”.

New legislation around adoption has also not been approved.

The chairman of the Stormont Health Committee also expressed his concern around the matter.

Colm Gildernew urged the Health Minister to “act urgently”, describing both as “important pieces of legislation”.

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