Thursday 26 April 2018

Right-to-die 'guidelines' not on cards

Marie Fleming and her partner Tom Curran. Mark Condren
Marie Fleming and her partner Tom Curran. Mark Condren

Dearbhail McDonald, Legal Editor

The landmark ruling involving right-to-die campaigner Marie Fleming would probably "have to be reversed" to allow guidelines setting out what factors can be taken into account when prosecuting assisted suicide cases, according to a Supreme Court judge.

Ms Fleming, who suffered from MS, died last December after losing a lengthy legal battle against Ireland's ban on assisted suicide.

In the High Court, Ms Fleming sought an order requiring the DPP to issue guidelines setting out what factors would be taken into account in deciding whether to prosecute anyone who helped her to die at a time of her choosing.


A three-judge court ruled that only the Oireachtas could introduce legislation laying down guidelines, adding that it would be unconstitutional for the DPP to do so.

Last night Mr Justice Frank Clarke was asked, after an extra-judicial lecture, about the Fleming case and the influence of foreign jurisprudence – which did permit such guidelines.

He said the Supreme Court did not have to consider the issue of prosecutorial guidelines as this aspect of Ms Fleming's High Court action was not appealed.

Mr Justice Clarke told a group of students and lawyers the ruling would probably have to be reversed before such a right could be permitted.

Irish Independent

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