Kenny will not legislate for assisted suicide

Taoiseach praises courage of Marie Fleming but says it’s not for him to give commitment on issue

Tom Curran (left) and Marie Fleming (front right) at the High Court after losing her case challenging the absolute ban on assisted suicide. Mr Curran was in the Dáil today when the subject was raised.  Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Tom Curran (left) and Marie Fleming (front right) at the High Court after losing her case challenging the absolute ban on assisted suicide. Mr Curran was in the Dáil today when the subject was raised. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has rejected calls to bring in new laws allowing assisted suicide.

Tom Curran, partner of terminally ill multiple sclerosis sufferer Marie Fleming attended the Dáil today, as the couple continue their fight for her right to die after being refused by the courts.

“By any standards this is an extraordinary case involving an extraordinary woman,” Mr Kenny said. “I believe that if this house were asked to find words to adequately describe the impeccable courage and dignity and competence of Ms Fleming it would probably be rendered mute.”

Independent TD John Halligan called on the Taoiseach to legislate for assisted suicide with necessary safeguards and to allow for the contentious issue to be debated in the Dáil.

“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,” Mr Kenny said.

Ms Fleming, who was too ill to attend a recent Supreme Court ruling against her right-to-die appeal, was also too unwell to attend the Dáil today.

Court cases of her right-to-die campaign have heard the extent of her condition. She can only move her head and lives in constant pain and cannot swallow. Ms Fleming also suffers choking sessions which she fears will eventually kill her.

“All of us have a right to a dignified life and the right to to demand a dignified life but we also have the right to a dignified death,” Mr Halligan said.

“We have the right to a peaceful death. It is everybody’s wish to have a peaceful death.

Mr Halligan said the courts had ruled that there is nothing to stop the Government legislating for assisted suicide.

Ms Fleming’s partner Mr Curran faces up to 14 years in jail if convicted of helping her to die.

PA