Michael Healy-Rae accused of ‘undermining’ report of Oireachtas committee with ‘minority report’

Two Fine Gael members of committee say chairman Healy-Rae undermining credibility of report on eve of publication

A row has broken out between members of the special Oireachtas committee on assisted dying with the chairman accused of seeking to “undermine” its final report on the eve of its publication.

Two Fine Gael members of the committee said its chairman, Independent TD for Kerry Michael Healy-Rae, was “seeking to undermine the credibility” of the report, after he wrote to TDs and Senators saying he would launch a minority report following its publication on Wednesday.

In a letter sent this morning, Mr Healy-Rae thanked members for their work and said he wanted as a courtesy to inform them that he would be presenting a “set of minority recommendations” on behalf of the three members who dissented from the final report, which recommended legislating for assisted dying.

Along with Mr Healy-Rae, Independent Senator Ronán Mullen and Fianna Fáil TD for Longford Westmeath Robert Troy voted against the final report, which is due for publication at 2.30pm on Wednesday.


His email prompted a pointed response from Fine Gael TD for Fingal Alan Farrell, who told Mr Healy-Rae he was “not in the slightest bit surprised” at the development.

“I wish to commend you for seeking to undermine the credibility of the very report you shepherded through the difficult process we all ventured into together. I make no bones whatsoever for highlighting this, in advance of the report launch tomorrow,” Mr Farrell wrote.

“Deputy Troy and Senator Mullen are perfectly entitled to express their personal views, which I expect, but as Cathaoirleach, to present the report without accepting the report, is untenable. Thank you for confirming what I had already assumed.”

Ms Seery-Kearney responded to Mr Farrell’s email, indicating she concurred with him.

“It is completely untenable that [Mr Healy-Rae] will present a report as Chair of the Committee to the press and then meet with them afterwards to present a minority report contradicting that same report,” she said.

In a statement, Senator Mullen said the case for assisted dying “has not been established, whereas the case against any change is overwhelming”.

“There are no lives not worth living,” the three dissenting voices will say in their recommendations. They will also call for funding for “long-promised, high-quality palliative care services”; a study on “ableism in Irish society”; and “much-increased mental health supports to identify depression problems” which they say can be a factor in requests for assisted dying.

“The public would be better served by directing funding towards mental health than towards assisted dying,” they argue.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times