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Summary

  1. MLAs in the Education Committee received a series of briefings as part of their consideration of the Shared Education Bill.
  2. In the afternoon, surgeons from the Belfast Health Trust briefed the Health Committee as part of its consideration of the Human Transplantation Bill.

Live Reporting

By Robin Sheeran and Robert Ainley

All times stated are UK

  1. The committee adjourns

    Maeve McLaughlin adjourns the meeting.

    Join us tomorrow morning at 10:00 GMT for live coverage of the Culture Committee, when MLAs will be concentrating their minds on sign language, and safety concerns at Casement Park stadium.

  2. 'Only 35% on the donor register'

    Donor card

    In reply to a question from the DUP's Tom Buchanan, Mr Rooney says there is "still only 35 or 36% of the population" on the donor register.

    "The message is clearly not reaching enough people with the right intensity," he says.

  3. 'Talking about death and bodies'

    Dr Eddie Rooney

    Eddie Rooney, chief executive of the Public Health Agency (PHA) explains some of the findings of two public opinion surveys about organ donation.

    He says the PHA discovered that there were concerns in the areas of " spiritual tradition", medical distrust and "not wanting to talk about death and bodies".

  4. The department's view

    Jackie Johnston

    Jackie Johnston of the Health Department says the minister, Simon Hamilton, had indicated his preference for a delay to observe the effectiveness of the Welsh law.

    He says Mr Hamilton has accepted the Assembly's decision to pass the bill at the second stage deate and will make available resources to Mrs Dobson and the committee "in terms of maybe strengthening the bill".

  5. Departmental briefing

    DHSSPS and PHA officials

    Officials from the Department of Health and the Public Health Agency arrive to begin their briefing.

  6. Wilson rules out leadership bid

    Sammy Wilson

    The DUP's Sammy Wilson has ruled himself out of the running to become the next leader of the DUP. 

    Speaking at Westminster today, the East Antrim MP said: "I've told Nigel Dodds that he's the natural successor to Peter Robinson".  

  7. 'Greatest threat to transplantation service'

    Alex Easton

    The DUP's Alex Easton asks the surgeons whether they have the resources to make use of any increase in donations.

    "No, we are already a challenged in that respect," Mr Connolly replies.

    He refers to a limited access to operating theatres, the number of surgeons and beds.

    Mr Connolly says the greatest threat to the Northern Ireland transplantation service is the tissue -typing laboratory "that is constantly in difficulties from staff retention and recruitment".

  8. 'Are the Donors Really Dead?'

    Dr James Douglas

    Rosie McCorley of Sinn Féin asks about the effect of television programmes on people's attitudes to donation.

    Dr James Douglas, a retired consultant nephrologist, tells the members about a BBC Panorama programme in the 1980s entitled "Are the Donors Really Dead?".

    He says donation rates "plummeted all over the UK" for a period after its screening.

  9. The surgeons' letter

    Fearghal McKinney

    The SDLP's Fearghal McKinney asks why he had not received a letter expressing the surgeons' concerns that had been quoted by the health minister in the Assembly.

    Mr Brown  says "I can only apologise that you did not receive that".

    Mr McKinney says the fact that the letter was not sent to committee members was "unhelpful". 

  10. Support for 'soft opt-out'?

    Jo-Anne Dobson

    Ulster Unionist Jo-Anne Dobson, who is bringing the private member's bill on transplantation asks the surgeons whether they support the principle of "soft opt-out".

    Mr Connolly says they have no objection to soft opt-out, but Mr Brown says he does have an objection.

    "One of the very overarching tenets of medical ethics is the concept of autonomy," he says.

    Mr Brown says he thinks that "assuming that someone has given consent when they have not given consent is a violation of autonomy," 

  11. 'May backfire on us'

    In reply to a question from Maeve McLaughlin, Mr Connolly talks about confusion on the part of the public on what is meant by "deemed consent".

    "Our concern is that that may backfire on us if it gets into a realm of conflict between donor families and the medical profession," he says. 

  12. The Welsh approach

    Human organ transplantation

    Mr Connolly points to the Welsh approach.

    The Cardiff administration has introduced an opt-out system for transplants this week.

    Mr Connolly suggests that it may be useful to see how the Welsh law works in practice.

  13. 'Caution' about legal change

    Mr John Connolly

    Mr Connolly says the surgeons are fully supportive of the aim of encouraging more people to make their organs available for transplant.

    He says they are "cautious" that any change in the law "may potentially have an impact on the public's willingness to donate".

    Mr Connolly says that the "gold standard" of the donation system in Spain may have been misrepresented.

    He says Spain has 54.2 transplants per million of population, compared to 54.1 in Northern Ireland.

  14. Surgeons briefing

    Consultant surgeons, Belfast Trust

    Three consultant surgeons from the Belfast Trust arrive to give their views on the Human Transplantation Bill

    They are Mr John Connolly, Mr James McDaid, Dr James Douglas, and Mr Tim Brown.

  15. In the chair

    Maeve McLaughlin

    Sinn Féin's Maeve McLaughlin is chairing today's meeting.

    She makes reference to the High Court's ruling on abortion law, and the members agree to ask to the minister how this will affect the recently-announced guidance on abortion.

  16. Health Committee

    This afternoon we have live coverage of the Health Committee starting at 14:00 GMT.

    There are two briefings on the Human Transplantation Bill.

  17. Lunchtime

    Peter Weir adjourns the committee meeting.

    Join us again from 14:00GMT when surgeons from the Belfast Health Trust and officials from the department and Public Health Agency are briefing MLAs in the Health Committee as part of its consideration of the Human Transplantation Bill.

  18. 'Mixing policies risks losing one'

    Peter Hamill

    The TRC's Dr Peter Hamill welcomes the move to defining the term "shared education", but says his organisation has some concerns over the department's inclusion of socio-economic deprivation in the definition.

    He says the church believes action is needed to tackle disadvantage, but "the importance of this work means it should have a particular focus" and the current definition risks "mixing of two areas in one definition".

    There have been examples of mixing in previous legislation, he says and "one policy focus has been lost".

  19. Churches 'enthusiastic about sharing'

    Transferors representatives

    Dr Peter Hamill, Gavin Norris and Rev Colin McClure from  the Transferors Representatives Council (TRC), who represent the three main Protestant denominations (Presbyterian, Church of Ireland and Methodist churches), begin their briefing.

    Rev McClure says the churches have received the idea of shared education "with much enthusiasm" with "resolutions of strong support for the concept" passed over the past five years.

  20. 'Share proofing'

    Education Authority logo

    The UUP's Sandra Overend asks if the newly-constituted Education Authority should set targets in relation to sharing.

    Catherine Ward says she would support "share-proofing" as an alternative to targets - requiring future policy and spending commitments to take sharing into account, which would "go a long way".

    "Could an outcome have been a shared solution? If not, why not? And give a rationale why it was not possible", she says.