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Summary

  1. The Finance Committee continued its review of the sale of NAMA assets in Northern Ireland by taking evidence from special advisers.
  2. MLAs in the Health Committee heard from international experts as part of their 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, and wished the members all a very happy Christmas.

    Join us tomorrow at 10:00 GMT for live coverage of the Environment Committee

  2. Financial aspects of the Transplantation Bill

    Colin Pidgeon

    Assembly researcher Colin Pidgeon gives the committee a briefing on the potential costs of the Human Transplantation Bill.

    He says that if it results in a greater availability of organs for transplant "that costs you more in terms of the surgical procedures", on the other hand, savings will be made on treatments such as keeping patients on dialysis.

  3. Smokers' lungs for transplant

    Transplantation surgery in progress

    Sally Johnston says it is important to challenge some of the myths around organ donation.

    "Forty per cent of the lungs that get transplanted come from someone who smoked," she says.

  4. 'Transplant tourism'

    Alex Easton

    The DUP's Alex Easton asks about human trafficking for live organ donation.

    Dr Samuel suggests that a sentence be added to the bill to prevent this.

    Sally Johnston says "the regulation in this country is very tight" and that it "would weed out anyone who was doing that".

    "People are more likely to go abroad as 'transplant tourists' than bring living donors to this country," she says.

  5. Awareness of the Welsh system

    Jo-Anne Dobson

    Jo-Anne Dobson congratulates Ms Vernon on the achievement of the Welsh legislation.

    Ms Vernon says that research has shown that 72% of the Welsh population is aware of the new system.

  6. 'A skilled conversation'

    Maeve McLaughlin asks about the role of the family within the Welsh system,

    Ms Vernon says "there is no measure,or test, of how upset that family needs to be" and that there has to be "a very skilled conversation that is carried out by a specialist".

    "Even though it might be lawful to proceed with organ donation because you have the consent of the deceased, either expressed or deemed, it still has to be carried out within the context of that conversation," she says.

  7. 'You cannot build a house with one wall'

    Dr Undine Samuel

    Dr Samuel of Eurotransplant International Foundation says her work covers eight European countries.

    She says that in her country, Germany, transplantation can only take place after brain death.

    The German system of "informed consent" means it is very important to keep the public informed.

    "You cannot build a house with one wall" and donation is "one, important wall," she says.

    Dr Samuel notes that the term "transplantation activity"rather than "donation" is used in the Human Transplantation Bill, 

  8. 'High rate of utilisation'

    Sally Johnston

    Sally Johnston of NHS Blood and Transplant says her organisation works across the UK within the regulations in operation in the various jurisdictions.

    She says she wants to ensure that whatever decision is made it is "operationally simple" for her staff.

    Ms Johnston says it is not a question of more donors, but more transplants.

    "The UK has a high rate of utilisation," she says.

  9. The Welsh experience

    Patricia Vernon

    Patricia Vernon explains her work in preparing the legislation adopted by the Welsh government.

    She says the policy of "deemed consent" means that people are regraded as having given consent for the transplantation of their organs "unless they have said otherwise".

  10. International experts

    International expert panel

    Three international experts arrive to brief the committee on the transplantation bill.

    They are Patricia Vernon of the Welsh government, Dr Undine Samuel, Eurotransplant International Foundation, and Sally Johnston of NHS Blood and Transplant.

  11. Human Transplantation Bill

    Assembly researcher Janice Thompson briefs the committee on aspects of the Human Transplantation Bill

  12. What's in the bill?

    Donor card

    Mrs Dobson's bill is designed to change the system of consent for transplantation by making it "the societal norm".

    According to the  NI Assembly website it aims to move away from the current ‘opt-in’ to a new ‘soft opt-out’ system with appropriate family safeguards, a requirement for express consent in certain cases and the ability for people to nominate advocates to affirm their wishes upon death".

  13. Welcome back

    Maeve McLaughlin

    This afternoon's meeting of the Health Committee is chaired by Sinn Féin's Maeve McLaughlin.

    Business centres on Ulster Unionist Jo-Anne Dobson's Human Transplantation Bill.

  14. Committee adjourned

    Committee chair Daithí McKay adjourns the meeting.

    Join us again from 14:00GMT for coverage of the Health Committee, when MLAs are being briefed by international experts on proposals for a soft-opt out system of organ donation.

  15. 'No need to bring memo to DFM'

    Dominic Bradley also asks about the memorandum, saying he "can't understand why you didn't bring it to the attention of the Deputy First Minister".

    Dr O'Hagan replies "there was no need for me to go back to Martin again and say 'I've got this email', and if I did that with every single issue we were looking at, he may as well take on my job".

  16. 'Advisers act as a filter'

    Ian McCrea

    Asked by the DUP's Ian McCrea why the Deputy First Minister had not seen the draft memorandum of understanding, Dr O'Hagan says, "if I was to bring documents to Martin McGuinness at that early stage, he'd be spending all his time doing nothing but reading, because of the volume of work that comes in".

    She says it is part of her job to "filter all of that out".

    Independent Unionist John McCallister asks why she had not sought more information about the memorandum on the  NAMA sale.

    Dr O'Hagan says "it was not the statutory responsibility of OFMDFM to deal with NAMA or Pimco or any of that".

    "To be quite honest with you, we have a pile of work ourselves, without straying into work that is not our responsibility," she adds.

  17. 'NAMA did not accept PIMCO document

    Dr O'Hagan addresses the issue of why the deputy first minister had said he had not seen a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU), effectively a 'gentleman's agreement', between Pimco and NAMA.

    She says the MOU was "not acceptable to NAMA and was not taken forward".

    Had NAMA accepted the memorandum, it would have been subject to significant scrutiny, including review by the Attorney General, she says, but this never occurred. 

  18. Former DFM adviser briefs MLAs

    Dr Dara O'Hagan

    Dr Dara O'Hagan, a former special adviser to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness gives evidence to the committee on the sale of NAMA assets.

  19. 'Double agent'

    NAMA logo

    Daithí McKay describes Mr Bullick's evidence as "quite fascinating stuff," that was "deeply concerning" and "embarrassing for NAMA".

    "It does appear Mr Cushnahan had conflicts of interest going back some four years," he says, "we now know he was working on a regular basis with senior government officials with regard to the Pimco deal, without NAMA's knowledge".

    He says of Frank Cushnahan "here you effectively had a double agent, who was supposed to be working in the interests of NAMA who appears to have a litany of conflicts of interest".