Kerry Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae has been appointed Chair of the special Oireachtas Committee on assisted suicide/euthanasia.
Those who pushed hardest for the new committee to be established are determined to see euthanasia legalised in this country. There will be much talk about wanting “proper safeguards” and making sure no one ever feels “pressured” to opt for euthanasia but when you look at what has happened in countries like Canada these arguments simply don’t stand up.
The appointment of Deputy Healy-Rae as Chair of the new committee is based on the rotation system regarding chairmanships that operates in the Oireachtas between the various political parties and groupings. Deputy Healy-Rae has chaired Oireachtas committees in the past and is widely respected for the fair and impartial way he conducted himself. The names of other committee members have still to be released but they most likely will be heavily weighted in favour of euthanasia.
Canada legalised euthanasia in 2016. There was a quadrupling in the numbers of people who ended their lives this way in the first three years of the law taking effect. All the same promises were made there about “stringent safeguards” and how restrictive the law would be in practice.
In 2021, 10,064 lives were ended by euthanasia in Canada, an increase of over 32% from the previous year, accounting for 3.3% of all deaths in Canada. 17.3% of people cited “isolation or loneliness” as a reason for wanting to die. In 35.7% of cases, patients believed that they were a “burden on family, friends or caregivers”.
In 2020, People Before Profit–Solidarity TD Gino Kenny’s bill allowing for euthanasia in Ireland passed at Second Stage in the Dáil by 81 votes to 71. Thankfully, the Oireachtas Committee on Justice stopped the bill from progressing to a final vote.
It’s really important whenever the new committee gets up and running that we make our voices heard and support the work of groups like Hope Ireland (www.hopeireland.org). We need to be generous in coming forward to share personal stories that could impact the debate. Don’t assume your story about yourself or a loved one has no relevance in the debate. Send a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them about your story. They will treat it in the strictest confidence and respect your wishes on how it might be transmitted to a wider audience.