Thursday 18 October 2018

Around ten Irish people travel overseas for assisted suicide every year - right-to-die campaigner claims

Tom Curran with his late partner Marie Fleming, who passed away last December
Tom Curran with his late partner Marie Fleming, who passed away last December
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

An estimated ten Irish people travel overseas every year to avail of assisted suicide, right-to-die campaigner Tom Curran has claimed.

Tom cared for his partner Marie Fleming full-time for more than 15 years before she died from multiple sclerosis in December 2013, before her passing they fought a lengthy court battle as they challenged the ban on assisted suicide here.

When asked on Newstalk Breakfast how many Irish people go to Switzerland to access assisted suicide every year, he said: "There are a lot more now than we are aware of, there are people going there all the time.

"Dignitas release their figures but they're just one clinic.

"About ten per year."

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

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, he spoke candidly about why he feels it is important that people with prolonged and life limiting illnesses should be able to end their own lives.

Mr Curran, who is from Arklow in Wicklow, said: "Any of the places where it (euthanasia) has been brought in the medical professional seemed to go along with it without any difficulty at all.

Tom Curran
Tom Curran

"In all cases there is a conscientious way of opting out of these situations, it is a moral question, there are a lot of morals involved and it's a very divisive issue.

"So if people don't want to get involved that's the whole point, it's not a medical issue but a civil rights one - to help people do it for themselves and to end their suffering.

"This is a rational person deciding that they don't want a prolonged, painful end to their life, they want to take control of it themselves."

Read More: 'It is hitting me an awful lot more now' - Right-to-die campaigner Marie Fleming's partner spends third Christmas without his beloved

After a debate on Newstalk Breakfast yesterday about whether doctors would feel coerced into assisting with suicide if it's legalised here, Mr Curran said he doesn't feel that medical professionals need to be a part of euthanasia.

He said: "I don't think it's necessary for a doctor to be involved.

"The concept of the part a doctor can play is they can decide if someone is thinking rationally enough to make this decision and are capable of understanding the decision they are making.

"For instance, in Switzerland - the only place in the world people can travel to for assisted death - Dignitas isn't run by two doctors but two barristers, they're all voluntary people who work there and the assistance is provided by volunteers, they're not medical people.

"Unfortunately, I think that over the years, and particularly with advances in medical science, death has become medicalised and it was never like that, it should be a family celebration of a life."

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