Monday 5 December 2016

Garda probe launched into death of right-to-die campaigner Marie Fleming

Published 25/10/2016 | 14:12

Tom Curran with Marie Fleming in 2013. Photo: Garry O’Neill
Tom Curran with Marie Fleming in 2013. Photo: Garry O’Neill

A garda investigation has been launched into the death of right-to-die campaigner Marie Fleming.

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Speaking to Independent.ie, her partner Tom Curran said he is “very disappointed” and “obviously concerned”, but insisted he would not like to comment further as the investigation is ongoing.

Marie Fleming passed away in December 2013 after a lengthy battle for the right to end her own life failed.

Ms Fleming (59) had suffered with multiple sclerosis for much of her life after being diagnosed with the disease in 1986.

She had argued that the assisted suicide ban breached her constitutional rights and discriminated against her as a disabled person.

The High Court and Supreme Court both rejected the former UCD lecturer’s challenge of the Criminal Law (Suicide) Act of 1993, which makes it illegal to assist another person to take their own life.

Five years prior to that decision, Ms Fleming had registered with Dignitas, the clinic in Zurich, Switzerland, where terminally ill patients can bring about their own deaths under the supervision of qualified doctors.

She did not travel after vowing to try and challenge the laws around assisted suicide in Ireland instead.

In the final stages of her condition, she had no use of her arms or her legs, no bladder control, difficulty swallowing liquids and suffered regular choking episodes which left her exhausted, frightened and distressed.

In its judgement, the High Court said it believed the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) would act in a “humane and sensitive way” when considering whether to prosecute any assisted suicide of Ms Fleming.

Mr Curran said that he interpreted this as meaning they would make an exception for this case.

He also confirmed that he had not yet been contacted by gardaí.

The sentence for assisted suicide in Ireland is up to 14 years in jail.

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