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Tuesday 24 October 2017

I will not push for legislation on assisted suicide, says Tanaiste

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore

Fionnan Sheahan Group Political Editor

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has tried to calm tensions in the coalition over assisted suicide by saying he is not pushing for legislation on euthanasia.

Mr Gilmore and Taoiseach Enda Kenny have been giving out different signals on the highly contentious issue on the back of a number of high profile cases.

The case of multiple sclerosis sufferer, Marie Fleming, who lost a Supreme Court challenge to the ban on assisted suicide, has brought the issue to the forefront. The Tanaiste said last week the issue needs to be "dealt with legislatively".

But Mr Gilmore told the Irish Independent the Government has no plans to bring in legislation and the Labour Party is not pushing for laws in the area.

"The Government doesn't have any plans for legislation in that area. It is not part of our Programme for Government.

"What I said in the Dail last week is I felt it was an issue that should be considered in a non-partisan way in the Oireachtas.

"I think probably the place for it to be considered is at an Oireachtas committee. There needs to be a broad discussion on it.

"The Government doesn't have any legislative plans," he said.

When asked if he had plans to bring forward legislation, he said: "No."

COURTS

The Tanaiste said he was conscious about a case currently before the courts in the area.

Last week, a woman was charged with assisting the suicide of another woman in Dublin in 2011.

Mr Gilmore said he would like to see the Dail and Seanad developing a way where sensitive issues could be debated when they crop up.

"Issues which arise in society, I think we should have a way of having a reasoned discussion about them and I think that's the way to do it," he said.

Earlier this year, Ms Fleming lost a Supreme Court challenge to the ban on assisted suicide.

Last April, the courts ruled there was no constitutional right to take one's life, even though suicide is no longer a criminal act.

Neither is there a right to arrange for one's life to be terminated.

In the aftermath of Ms Fleming's ruling, Mr Kenny ruled out legislating on the issue. At the time, the Taoiseach hailed the "impeccable courage and dignity" of Ms Fleming who took the case along with her partner Tom.

"I understand the grief of this extraordinary woman and the commitment of her partner and family but it is not open to me to give you the commitment you seek."

Mr Kenny told the Dail that while there was nothing in the judgment that should be taken as implying the court would not be open to the State legislating for assisted suicide, it was not the same as saying the Oireachtas should do so.

Irish Independent

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