End of Life Ireland

Volunteers for Voluntary Assisted Dying
A kinder death

Ireland is changing and so too are attitudes around how we live and die.

We believe that palliative care is the very best solution for most people, but that people faced with terminal illness or an incurable/progressive condition should have the right to choose how they die and when they have suffered enough. 

We want to see legislation for Assisted Dying that will provide choice and protect all parties. We call on the government to legislate for this choice with a robust framework of safeguards.

John Halligan first presented a Dying with Dignity Bill in 2015, which collapsed because of a change in government. Then the Dying with Dignity Bill 2020, presented by Gino Kenny also stalled. That Bill built on the work of campaigners such as Vicky Phelan, Marie Fleming and Gaynor French.

Assisted Dying was finally recognised as a significant issue by our Government in July 2021 when the Justice Committee recommended that a Special Oireachtas Committee be set up to progress legislation to provide for this valid end of life choice.

Progressively ill people with incurable conditions and dying people do not have time to wait. Vicky Phelan as she dearly held on to life, continued to campaign in full knowledge that choice would come too late for her.

Together we must ensure Assisted Dying is progressed during the term of this Government.

Vicky Phelan

Voluntary Assisted Dying

A deeper understanding of end of life issues will lead to more comprehensive legislation.

A compassionate understanding of Assisted Dying will be reached through respectful discussion.

All parties should be heard and their views respected.

Conversations on death will bring about a greater understanding of

  • what terminal and progressive/incurable conditions mean to an individual
  • what peace of mind can be reached by knowing a legal option for Assisted Dying is available
  • how simply knowing there is an option can improve the quality of life of a dying person, even if they never choose to avail of the option
  • how legislation for Assisted Dying means that a person, once they meet the criteria, need no longer consider taking their own life
  • how loved ones need no longer fear being imprisoned for up to 14 years for helping a person travel or procure the means to end their life
  • that no-one need end their life alone, in a desperate measure to escape their suffering without implicating loved ones
  • that anyone meeting the criteria, regardless of their financial situation may apply for an Assisted Death
  • that someone may choose to die in a place of their choosing, when they determine they can suffer no more.

Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) as an end of life option is available in an increasing number of countries. Knowing VAD is a legal option gives invaluable peace of mind whether or not that choice is exerted.

In Oregon where VAD has been available for over 20 years now,  with NO evidence of abuse, over 35 percent of the prescriptions to Oregonians given were not used.

What mattered was knowing the prescription was there to be taken at a time of their own choosing. This greatly reduced their fear of death and gave those people great peace of mind. Legislation for VAD respects personal autonomy.

We believe that it is whilst we are in good health and of sound mind, it is essential we make good decisions about our well-being and health care. This will allow us live with peace of mind as we move towards the end of life.

We also hope that having conversations about death will improve hospice and other end of life services.

Just as the Marriage Equality campaign highlighted and continues to address inequality across intersectional areas of Irish life, we hope this legislation will lead to an improvement in all end of life services and an increased focus on palliative care.

Our aim is to provide information through this website,  online and at in-person events, in newsletters and on social media to help you make informed decisions about your own health care and that of people you love.

Hear more about why VAD matters

View TedX talks on end of life choice below, read our Oireachteas submission on the Dying with Dignity Bill.

Take a look at the FAQ section. If you have any questions, do let us know.

If you have a personal story you’d like to share, we’d be so grateful as it is in the sharing of personal stories that others learn to understand why this legislation matter

Dr. Brendan O'Shea

Dr Brendan O’ Shea, MD FRCGP is a GP in Co Kildare, Ireland, and Assistant Adjunct Professor at Trinity College Dublin. Over three decades in practice, he has been involved in training and education of Doctors, including Undergraduates, and Postgraduate Training in General Practice.

He describes himself as a practicing Buddhist (‘haven’t got the hang of it yet!’), and a pragmatic optimist.

He strongly supports availability of Medical Assistance in Dying as a choice for people at end of life.  This talk explores how to practically assert ownership of our own death. It’s delivered with a view to encouraging and guiding people to take key steps towards ensuring a better experience, for themselves and their loved ones, towards end of life and beyond.

Helen O’Shaughnessy

As an active Humanist and accredited celebrant in NZ, Helen moved back to Ireland in 2017 to care for her sister who was terminally Ill. Dying with Dignity she feels is a fundamental human right something not afforded to her sister, or many others.

She has actively campaigned for social change, including abortion rights, separation of church and state and the removal of Blasphemy Laws from the Irish Constitution.

Corry de Jongh

Corry has been living in Dublin for over 40 years and practises as a senior family psychotherapist and supervisor in the Clanwilliam Institute and with the HSE in Ireland. She has a particular interest in ageing and dying and actively promotes discussion about end of-life issues.

In her talk she tells the moving and empowering story of a dear friend, who at the age of 99 exercised her choice to end her life with medical assistance as permitted under Dutch law.