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      Father of boy who inspired organ donation law says Westminster is ‘last hope’

      ByMonelo Gabriel

      Feb 14, 2023

      The father of a boy who inspired a new organ donation law in Northern Ireland has vowed to take his fight to Westminster.

      Mairtin MacGabhann said he was disappointed but not surprised after the Stormont MLAs were again unable to elect a speaker, which meant they were unable to pass the necessary regulations to implement Daithi’s Law.

      Their six-year-old son Daithi is currently awaiting a heart transplant.

      The new legislation will introduce an opt-out organ donation system in the region.

      The DUP refuses to participate in devolved government until its concerns over the Northern Ireland Brexit Protocol are addressed.

      The Assembly’s failure to act now puts the spotlight on Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris and MPs with constituencies in the region.

      Assembly recalled to Stormont
      Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill meets six-year-old Daithi Mac Gabhann in the Great Hall of the Parliament Buildings in Stormont (Liam McBurney/PA)

      McGabhann said Westminster is his “last hope”.

      He said a shout of “joke” in the House of Assembly after failing to elect a speaker shows his family isn’t the only one feeling frustrated.

      “It’s a very disappointing day for us, it’s Valentine’s Day, it’s Heart Day, it’s also Congenital Heart Defects Day, and here was an opportunity to have a fairy tale ending in regards to the Daithi law, and unfortunately that should not be,” he said.

      “It doesn’t surprise us at all, but we have never given up hope, and even up until that last second we still had a bit of hope. But I guess today gives us an opportunity to focus solely on Westminster, the Secretary of State, to the Jeffrey Donaldson amendment.

      “We will want to talk to our parliamentarians again, and there was talk of a joint amendment. It is very clear from the (House) floor today that all parties are in favor and it is very disappointing that it was not possible to cross the line today.

      “We are not going to let this rest, we are still going to fight, what we will probably do now is look at flights for next week.

      “Now we will take the fight to London.”

      The DUP says the regulations can be passed in Westminster, however earlier this week the government warned that it is “highly unlikely” this will succeed.

      The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) expressed doubts about a DUP plan to implement the law by submitting an amendment to a piece of scheduled legislation.

      McGabhann has asked for clarity on the process in Westminster.

      “We’re just hoping we can get a little bit of transparency now, we’ve heard one thing, we’ve seen other things, we just need the truth, we need to know what’s going to happen in Westminster,” he said.

      “I call on our deputies and the Secretary of State for honesty, for transparency, what can we do? Is this possible now?

      “Is this game of political football over? I hope so. I hope we can now get the answers we not only need, but deserve.”

      An NIO spokesperson said the Secretary of State “shares the frustrations of Daithi and the MacGabhann family that the political stalemate in Northern Ireland is causing unnecessary delays in life-saving legislation.”

      They added: “The quickest and easiest way to implement the Daithi Act remains for Northern Ireland parties to progress this legislation through the Assembly.”


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