On Tuesday, the All Party Oireachtas Life and Dignity Group hosted an event on palliative care and euthanasia with Dr Miriam Colleran. She is a Consultant in Palliative Medicine in Naas General Hospital. 

A good number of TDs and Senators from various parties and none attended the event, as well as a number of parliamentary assistants. 

Dr Colleran focused on her experience as a palliative care consultant and mentioned the ongoing debate on Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide. Some weeks back, she also appeared before the Joint Committee on Assisted Dying, which is due to issue its report shortly. 

Among other things, she raised the concerns of many healthcare workers and professional bodies that if euthanasia/assisted suicide was introduced, it would have a direct impact in undermining investment in palliative care. She pointed to Canada as an example of a country which legislated for ‘assisted dying’ on an apparently ‘restricted’ basis for people with terminal illness but has now expanded euthanasia eligibility to other groups based on the principle of equity.

The meeting was chaired by Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick from Louth. He said: ““I’m very grateful to Dr Miriam Colleran for addressing our event. Because of advances in medical technology, people are living for longer. Palliative care is therefore much more important in supporting people to age well with dignity and support. This support needs to be person-centred, evidence-based, and compassionate. We are especially concerned that proposals to introduce a euthanasia/assisted dying law would undercut investment in palliative care.”

It is excellent to see the All Party Oireachtas Life and Dignity Group hosting meetings like the one that took place on Tuesday. They are making a real and positive difference to public discourse on lots of issues thanks to their commitment and resolve. It is very encouraging too the way they keep fighting and never back down even on the occasions when the odds appear stacked against them.