Ireland 'will have to face euthanasia debate'
European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly has said she expects Ireland to join the debate on euthanasia in a number of years.
Speaking at a conference on advocacy for older people, Ms O'Reilly predicted that trends within mainland European countries regarding medically assisted dying would soon be discussed here.
"Ireland isn't unique. We're going to be swimming in the same cultural streams - maybe not today or tomorrow, but we will be maybe in five or 10 years' time and that is the debate," she said.
Ms O'Reilly said that she first started thinking about the issues when working in Brussels, while her mother was in hospice care in Ireland. At present, Belgium and the Netherlands do not penalise euthanasia, so long as it conforms to medical regulations.
"In those countries, that's become the norm and that has become the compassionate and caring thing - to end somebody's life at a point where, in Ireland, it wouldn't happen," she added.
However, she highlighted the worry that if euthanasia becomes normalised, people who may not appear to have quality of life may feel pressurised to end their lives.
"It's a debate that we will be forced to have anyway, because anything that happens in mainland Europe or elsewhere eventually comes to these shores as well," she said.