MS interview distressing, says society


The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland has criticised a decision by RTÉ to rebroadcast an interview with a man with an advanced form of the condition who took his own life in Switzerland.

The Marian Finucane Show on RTÉ Radio 1 yesterday repeated the interview with the 30-year-old man from Cork. It was first broadcast last October.

In the interview he spoke about contacting a group in Switzerland that assists people with terminal illnesses to take their own lives.

In a statement yesterday the society said the show had been "very distressing" for people with the condition and in particular for anyone who had been recently diagnosed.

"The show did not provide a balanced appraisal of MS, exposing instead the most extreme case," the organisation said in a statement.

"It is not possible to predict how multiple sclerosis will affect an individual. However, the vast majority of people with multiple sclerosis live fulfilled lives and cope with their condition through support and treatment."

In a statement last night RTÉ defended the rebroadcast, saying the discussion "was focused on assisted suicide rather than on multiple sclerosis".

RTÉ also said it recognised the difficulties that those diagnosed with the condition were facing.

The chief executive of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland, Dr Graham Love, said his organisation did not condone assisted suicide. "The position of MS Ireland is clear. It is illegal. We do not support it and we do not provide services to facilitate it in any way," Dr Love said.

He said the society worked to prevent people with MS from reaching the point where they wished for assisted suicide.

He said there were around 6,000 people in Ireland with multiple sclerosis and that the vast majority were able, with the support of the State and of the society, to live fulfilled lives.

Most people with the condition could continue with their jobs and live their lives with their families, he said.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland has established a helpline - 1800 233 233 - to assist anyone with concerns about the condition.