TERMINALLY-ill Marie Fleming regrets not ending her life at a time when she was able to do so herself, a court has been told.
A lawyer for the multiple sclerosis sufferer said she now believes she faces a painful, humiliating and distressing death. But she wants to choose to die peacefully at home in the arms of her partner, Tom Curran, who would be left facing a threat of jail if he assisted her suicide.
Appealing to the seven-judge Supreme Court in Dublin, senior counsel Brian Murray said the cruel irony was that were Ms Fleming able bodied and not experiencing the same acute degree of suffering, she would be able to do what she now wants to do.
"She expressed at one stage regret that when she was able bodied and considered ending her own life, that she did not do so," Mr Murray said.
Ms Fleming is wheelchair-bound, physically helpless, lives in constant pain, cannot swallow and suffers choking sessions which she fears will kill her, the court was told.
Mr Murray said she is in the late stages of the terminal and incurable illness, with between months and two years left to live, and may lose the ability to communicate and be "locked-in" while fully sensed.
"She faces a death which she believes will be painful, humiliating and distressing," said Mr Murray.
"She wishes to end her life and to die, not as and when her body is overwhelmed by her disease and at the culmination of the suffering which she presently experiences, but instead to die peacefully and at a time and in a manner of her own choosing.
"What she asks is not to have another person kill her. She wishes to, and can, take the decisive physical step herself.
"However, her physical condition is so that she cannot end her life without assistance."
Mr Murray revealed that the 59-year-old former university lecturer could self-administer gas through a mask or a lethal injection through a cannula put into her arm, which she would activate by shaking her head or blowing.
Ms Fleming's legal team argued that the ban on assisted suicide discriminates as Ms Fleming should have the same right to die by suicide as an able-bodied person.
The appeal was fast-tracked through the legal system after three judges at the High Court in Dublin ruled last month that they could not support allowing a third party to bring about the death of another.
But they agreed that the DPP, in this of all cases, would exercise her discretion in a humane and sensitive fashion as to whether to prosecute or not.
Ms Fleming, from Arklow in Co Wicklow, was diagnosed with MS in 1989.
Referring to the earlier ruling, Mr Murray said there was no credible evidence that there would be any increase in the risk of unlawful deaths occurring if the exception to the law that his client wishes for was introduced.
He maintained that not a single person will be harmed if she is allowed to take the course of action and there would be "no public consequence, no defined harm" arising from this.
The hearing is expected to run for three days, continuing today, with arguments from the State and the Irish Human Rights Commission.