John Halligan to bring assisted suicide Bill before Dáil

Independent TD to introduce Bill removing criminal sanction against family member or doctor who assists suicide

An Independent TD is to introduce a Bill removing any criminal sanctions against a family member or doctor who assists a suicide.

Waterford TD John Halligan has compiled a dying with dignity Bill to be introduced in the Dáil within weeks. He said there needed to be a "dignified, compassionate and thoughtful debate" on the issue.

“This affects many families and at some point it may affect all of us or a member of our families. You have a right to dignity in life and you have a right to a dignified death.”

The Bill, which was compiled by two barristers, sets out strict criteria before an assisted suicide can take place. The person must have a terminal and incurable illness and must be assessed by at least two doctors before a decision is reached.


The proposed legislation requires the second doctor to be independent and not to have been involved in the patient’s treatment.

Legal capacity

It requires the person seeking assisted suicide to be over 18 and to have the legal capacity to make the request.

Mr Halligan said he believed he had the support of a number of TDs on the Government and Opposition benches.

“This is about a person who is terminally ill and their right to make a decision themselves. Nobody has the right to tell them they must live in horrendous pain. We need to show compassion.” The dying with dignity Bill would remove sanctions against any member of a family who helps a loved one to end their life. It also lays downs that a physician who carries out the act cannot be charged with murder if the provisions in the Bill are followed.


Mr Halligan worked on the legislation with Tom Curran, the partner of Marie Fleming who took a legal case in the Supreme Court to be allowed to end her life.

“There are a number of TDs who have told me they support this plan. When I raised it with Eamon Gilmore, when he was leader of the Labour Party, he admitted it was time for a national debate on it.

“I hope the Government will not oppose this Bill when I introduce it and allow a conversation to be had on the issue.

“I would also appeal to the Government to allow a free vote on the issue. It is too serious an issue to put a whip on it. We need to show some compassion on the issue.”

The proposed legislation follows the decision by a jury this week to find Gail O'Rorke not guilty of attempting to assist a suicide. Ms O'Rourke had made travel arrangements for her friend Bernadette Forde to go to Zurich.