Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights


Organ Donation: Should we be ‘Opting in’ or ‘Opting out’?

Sat 18 January 2014, 2:56pm

Tweet Okay, a short enough question to chew on for a bit. The core of this argument between JoAnne Dobson (UUP) and Alastair Ross (DUP) is that the former wants to change the law to make organ donation a default position which you and your relatives can opt out of, whilst Mr Ross’s proposed amendment […] more »

Poots’ blood ban scientifically and medically sound. (Even if accepting blood from Britain is not.)

Thu 17 October 2013, 10:16am

Tweet I don’t have strong views one way or the other on the recent judgement against the local health Minister. On one level, what’s wrong with levelling up with the rest of the UK? However, as Kilsally has pointed out in the past, the UK position is the exception rather than the rule. In fact […] more »

#Budget14: Labour gets a fillip as Noonan gambles on a rising economic tide…

Wed 16 October 2013, 9:38am

Tweet Well the mood music at the Fine Gael’s National Conference was pretty upbeat. They reckoned that offering free medical cards for the under fives was going to frame the post budget debate, and they weren’t wrong. Most striking aspect of the opposition’s problem (mostly FF’s) was in trying to land a single major blow […] more »

Change in the abortion laws in Ireland north and south likely to be glacial and conservative

Mon 14 October 2013, 3:03pm

Tweet The tragic case of Sarah Ewart’s opens up another round of discussions on the appropriateness of current abortion laws, both and south of the border. In this respect both jurisdictions on the island have much more in common than in Britain where the liberal 1967 abortion law legalises a woman’s right to choose in […] more »

Stormont’s odd debate on free school dinners. “Whatever you do, don’t mention child poverty.”

Tue 17 September 2013, 5:01pm

Tweet I cannot think of another polity in which a discussion on the increase in the uptake of free school meals could almost entirely avoid any direct reference to the possible corresponding increase in child poverty. I say possible, because in yesterday’s private member’s debate on free school meals was based on barely any data […] more »

#givepootstheboot: Minister spends £100k opposing #LGBT blood donation and adoption

Tue 17 September 2013, 4:17pm

Tweet A few days ago it was revealed that Health Minister Edwin Poots is to fritter away more department money in his attempts to prevent the extension of adoption rights to gay and same-sex (and un-married) couples by taking the case to the Supreme Court. The Green Party leader, Steven Agnew, had Edwin Poots clarify legal […] more »

Identifying “risk from child sexual exploitation” is only the first task of the police, health and justice systems…

Sat 14 September 2013, 12:43pm

Tweet Welcome news… “As part of this review, we have identified a group of 22 young people who may be at risk from child sexual exploitation and are seeking to identify those who may have committed crimes against them.” Identifying victims is not the same as prosecution, and it certainly does not mean that for […] more »

The Catholic church is behaving as if it knows it does not speak for the Irish people over abortion

Fri 21 June 2013, 9:10am

Tweet Just a reflection or two on the issues of Mick’s post. When you see it written down so starkly out of the mouth of one Cardinal Burke from the real life perspective of the Roman Curia, the effect is breathtaking. Will  Catholics now rush to contradict him? I wonder. Many people seem to want […] more »

How well does the Catholic church understand its own teaching on abortion?

Wed 22 May 2013, 5:03pm

Tweet This is well worth noting before it passes over us, on the question of abortion in the south. James P Mackey is visiting professor at the school of religions and theology at Trinity College. And he’s been looking back at some of his old Catholic textbooks from Maynooth: The Roman Catholic hierarchy has formally […] more »

Poots’ residential care home fiasco shows risk aversion brings its own troubles

Tue 7 May 2013, 3:09pm

Tweet So last week it was the Health Minister’s turn to get burned. Yet at the end of the week, it is not at all clear as to how the Health Trusts came to interpret ‘at least 50%’ of all Trust residential care homes as 100%, in the case of the Northern Trust, over the […] more »

#Reilly legislation on abortion: It’s truly idiotic

Thu 25 April 2013, 11:00am
You didn't expect this.

Tweet And the abortion debate rumbles on …. Yesterday Health Minister James Reilly denied that it was ever being proposed that the opinion of six doctors would be stipulated in legislation covering abortion where there was a risk of suicide. This morning, Fionnan Sheahan published details of the draft legislation: • “One obstetrician and two […] more »

Sinn Fein steps in at the last minute to call an end to the Stopes farce…

Tue 12 March 2013, 10:38am

Tweet So it falls to Sinn Fein, alone of all the major parties to do the right thing on an amendment to Stormont’s Criminal Justice Bill, which as Philip Bradfield notes “would effectively forbid abortions from being carried out in Northern Ireland, except within the National Health Service (NHS)”. They alone have the power to […] more »

Gerry Adams’ ‘health tourism’ raises more questions than it answers…

Tue 8 January 2013, 5:12pm

Tweet So Gerry Adams is getting to that stage of life where health becomes an issue. Early sixties can be a tough time for men, and in the last few months, he’s had two minor procedures. What makes both news is that neither of them were conducted in the Republic, and they raise more questions […] more »

Abortion clinic opens in Belfast…

Thu 11 October 2012, 3:49am

Tweet NORTHERN Ireland is to get its first abortion clinic next week. In one of the biggest stories of our generation – and one which will unite hardline Protestants and Catholics - it’s reported that Marie Stopes will open for business in Belfast next Thursday, with the help of former PUP leader Dawn Purvis. The […] more »

The Reilly Shortall affair: And Ireland’s loss of political direction…

Fri 5 October 2012, 8:28am

Tweet It’s been a good week to be in opposition in Irish politics. Pretty distressing if you’re trying to keep it together inside Government. Billy Kelleher of Fianna Fail may have been the one who first flushed out Roisin Shortall… but Mary Lou’s been reaping the benefits too… So what’s the issue? Well, to start […] more »

Independent review into children’s congenital heart services

Sun 12 August 2012, 2:25pm

Tweet At the start of this month the Health and Social care Board released a report into paediatric congenital cardiac services in Belfast. The report was by a team of highly respected experts in the field chaired by Professor Sir Ian Kenny. The panel made a number of important conclusions: 3 ii: It is the […] more »

“We seem to have adjusted to peace by means of mass medication…”

Wed 25 July 2012, 12:55pm

Tweet Some contrasting reports to note on health and well-being in Northern Ireland.  We knew in February this year that “the people of Northern Ireland are the happiest in the United Kingdom”.  That’s by their own subjective assessment, of course.  And a more detailed breakdown of the data suggests you might feel even happier living in some areas […] more »

Would the legalisation of cannibis help reduce the drug problem in Derry (and elsewhere)?

Tue 15 May 2012, 1:43pm

Tweet Right, I have no personal interest in pushing this line (‘if you’ll forgive the pun’). In other words I don’t do illegal drugs. That may be a result of the happy accident of never having really smoked and on the few occasions I’ve been offered canibis (a long long long time ago), it made […] more »

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery? Is the Belfast Telegraph standing on the shoulders of the News Letter?

Tue 1 May 2012, 1:40pm
news letter belfast telegraph articles comparison

Tweet Two articles in local newspapers this week show a remarkable similarity. On Monday, the News Letter published a story (also in Coleraine Times) following up Ian Paisley Jnr’s statement in Westminster Hall last week about the future of A&E at the Causeway Hospital. A tip off pointed to Tuesday’s Belfast Telegraph website which also […] more »

Assembly calls for debate on consent for Organ Donation

Mon 5 March 2012, 8:00am

Tweet A couple of weeks ago the assembly had a debate on organ donation in Northern Ireland and discussed the option of presumed consent as a mechanism to increase organ donation rates. Edwin Poots called for a public debate on the issue. The issues in this are complex. Presumed consent may substantially increase the number […] more »

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