Tuesday 23 May 2017

Video: 'I'm ready to go now' says right-to-die woman – but law says no

Marie Fleming pictured at the High Court as a statement is read out on her behalf by family solicitor Bernadette Parte alongside her partner Tom Curran (left), daughter Corrinna Moore and son Simon.
Marie Fleming pictured at the High Court as a statement is read out on her behalf by family solicitor Bernadette Parte alongside her partner Tom Curran (left), daughter Corrinna Moore and son Simon.

Lynne Kelleher

THE partner of multiple sclerosis sufferer Marie Fleming has opened up for the first time about her right-to-die court case to reveal that he feels privileged to care for the woman he loves.

Tom Curran also spoke of the huge strain on the couple from the High Court case. It was ruled on Thursday that any relaxation on the ban on assisted suicide could be harmful to the public interest in protecting the vulnerable.

Mrs Fleming has also spoken to the TV cameras for the first time in a special edition of the RTE series, Moment of Truth.

She said: "I am ready to go now. I just have things to do first. The grandchildren are the delight of my life.

"I would like the choice to be able to do it my way, which is not dramatic. It is to die in the arms of my family and Tom."

Mr Curran said yesterday that both of them were trying to recover from the landmark case before deciding whether to continue with their legal fight to allow her to have an assisted suicide at home.

He said: "I'm just tired. I was living on adrenaline for a while, we were both, and it has sort of just stopped.

"We are both trying to recover from the journey this far and I suppose it depends on what we do."

In a moving testimony about his partner of the past 20 years, the former IT consultant said that he felt blessed to be her full-time carer but that her medical care during the court case had been difficult.

He said: "The difficult bit was the timing because Marie needs tablets an hour before we try to get her up and all that making sure things happen on time was the difficult bit.

"It did take its toll on me but that is my job. That is what I'm here for and I enjoy it – it's a privilege."

He was speaking to the RTE presenter, Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh, on the case in the couple's only TV interview, finishing a special edition of the documentary series Moment of Truth which RTE first started filming at the couple's home last September.

In the interview, Mr Curran said that he had had no idea that he could possibly end up facing a murder charge and a mandatory life sentence if he helped his partner to end her own life.

But the former IT consultant, who left his high-flying job to care for the woman he loves, said that he would keep his promise to his partner to assist her suicide – even if he has to break the law.

Five years ago, Mrs Fleming considered travelling to Dignitas in Switzerland, which facilitates assisted suicide to terminally ill people, but Mr Curran promised to find out about "alternatives" because Mrs Fleming wishes to die in her own home.

"We spoke about alternatives and I wasn't aware of alternatives, I just didn't know anything about helping a person to die", he said in the RTE interview, which will be screened tonight.

"It almost sounds like murder but Marie wants to die in her home – which I think most people do – peacefully in her own home.

"I gave her an assurance that we would find out how that would happen and make sure that option was available to her if that stopped her from going (to Switzerland) and it meant then that she would live on.

"That was five years ago, so Marie has had an extra five years of life based on the fact that I am prepared to break the law.

"I will follow through on it. I don't know how it will affect me. I have promised Marie I will help and I will help. I love Marie enough.

"Nobody wants Marie to die. Very selfishly, I want Marie to be around forever but we know Marie well enough to respect her wishes.

"Marie will make the decision very positively before any action is taken."

He has no regrets about leaving his career to care for the woman he loves.

"The only thing I regret is that Marie has MC. It's a privilege for me to be Marie's carer.

"She is a beautiful person and to be her arms and legs and anything that she needs, I regard it as a privilege in life," said Mr Curran.

"We have some great conversations and great rows. We're normal. To me, when we fight, it means there is still fight in Marie. It's great she still has that fire.

"It is a more intense love. I look on her as my partner, my lover and I get as much, if not more, out of our relationship as Marie does."

'The Moment of Truth' will be shown on RTE One tonight at 11.05pm

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