Monday 23 April 2018

Coalition rift over assisted suicide

Eamon Gilmore
Eamon Gilmore
Lise Hand

Lise Hand

THE Coalition is on a collision course over how to handle the highly contentious issue of assisted suicide.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore suggested the controversial issue should be a dealt with through new laws – a move ruled out earlier this year by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Mr Gilmore was replying to Independent TD Stephen Donnelly, who raised the issue after a woman was charged this week with assisting the suicide of another woman.

He also brought in the case of multiple sclerosis sufferer Marie Fleming, who lost a Supreme Court challenge to the ban on assisted suicide.

Mr Gilmore said the issue needed to be "dealt with legislatively".

He added: "It will not be a simple, straightforward issue. There is a range of ethical, legal and other issues associated with this topic.

"It should not be a government and opposition type of issue. We should address it first as human beings and then as legislators."

Mr Gilmore described a proposal to commission an expert report on assisted suicide as "a very positive suggestion".

Last April the courts ruled in Ms Fleming's case that 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 that ruling, Mr Kenny ruled out legislating on the issue. At the time, the Taoiseach hailed the "impeccable courage and dignity" of Ms Fleming.

But when asked by Independent TD John Halligan if he would consider legislating, Mr Kenny stated: "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."

Irish Independent

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