Former minister John Halligan has revealed that he helped people travel to Switzerland to access assisted suicide and said he would do it again.
he former Independent Alliance TD, who retired from politics earlier this year, has called on politicians to finish the work he started on a bill that would decriminalise assisted suicide in specific cases.
It comes as Vicky Phelan, the patient advocate, said the Dáil should have "the balls" to pass a law to allow people with terminal illnesses like her to legally die with dignity in Ireland.
In 2015 Mr Halligan introduced the death with dignity bill but it stalled after the government collapsed the following year.
Mr Halligan became a junior minister in 2016 and was no longer able to move his own private member's bill. Gino Kenny, the People Before Profit TD, has now introduced the same bill.
If passed, it would give people with incurable and progressive illnesses the right to a legal assisted suicide if they are likely to die within six months. At the moment, assisted suicide is a crime in Ireland which is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
Mr Halligan said he had been contacted by a number of people with terminal illnesses who wanted to know how to access a legal assisted suicide in Switzerland.
"And I've told them. If someone asks me to help them, I will. I don't care," Mr Halligan said.
"If someone comes to me and asks me to tell them how to get there and how to do it, I will."
At the moment aiding, abetting or counselling the suicide of another person is illegal. The former Waterford TD said he was not afraid of being prosecuted for passing on information about assisted suicide abroad.
"You can Google it, and all the information is there," he said.
Dignitas, the Swiss non-profit group, has been guiding people through assisted suicide in Switzerland since 1998. According to its figures, as of the end of last year it had 56 Irish members.
Members can include supporters or those who are planning to access assisted suicide. Dignitas said it had helped nine Irish people access assisted suicide since 2003, most recently in 2018.
Mr Halligan, who worked with Fine Gael during the last government, said he believed "conservative elements" in that party and Fianna Fáil would try to block assisted suicide.
"But if there was a free vote, a lot of individual politicians would be in favour of it," he said.
He added that the Irish Catholic Church would also staunchly oppose such a change, and that "religious" arguments would be involved.
"Would a God want to inflict unnecessary suffering on someone? I don't believe in God, but I think that if there was a God, he or she would not want that," he said.
In 2013, the Supreme Court rejected a right-to-die case from the late Marie Fleming, but the court said the Oireachtas could pass legislation on the issue.
The Green Party's policy on assisted suicide is in line with the upcoming death with dignity bill. The Irish Independent contacted Green Party TDs and asked if they would support the bill.
A spokesman for Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman said any decision on the bill would be decided by the Government as a whole.
Green TD Ossian Smyth said he was "in favour of sensible legislation to regulate assisted dying".
He said he had not read the bill, but added it would be easy to get the legislation wrong.
"A public debate on the issue would need to be had, perhaps through a Citizens' Assembly, to find a consensus," he added.
Vicky Phelan, the cancer patient who unearthed the CervicalCheck scandal, said she wanted the legal right to die with dignity in Ireland. Ms Phelan said she was against referring the issue to a Citizens' Assembly because it could take years before assisted suicide would be legalised.
"I also don't think that it is something that should be voted on by a Citizens Assembly since the courts ruled that there is nothing to stop the Oireachtas from legislating to allow for assisted dying as long as the appropriate safeguards are in place. I believe that this bill provides those safeguards," she said.
"I would like to see this Dáil having the balls to deal with this bill and to vote it through to give people like me the option of dying with dignity at home here in Ireland."
Neither MS Ireland nor the Irish Cancer Society has taken a clear position for or against a change in the law on assisted suicide. It is understood that the issue is viewed as extremely sensitive by both organisations.