End of Life Ireland

Our views

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

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. 

So with a robust framework of safeguards, legislation for Assisted Dying will both protect everyone and provide choice.

John Halligan first presented a Dying with Dignity Bill in 2015, which collapsed because of a change in government. The Dying with Dignity Bill 2020, presented by Gino Kenny, supported by Vicky Phelan built on the work of campaigners such as Marie Fleming and Gaynor French. Vicky Phelan as she dearly holds on to life, continues to campaign in full knowledge that choice will come  too late for her.   

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

Progressively ill people with incurable conditions and dying people do not have time to wait. 

With a more compassionate understanding of Assisted Dying, with respectful discussion where all parties can be heard and their views respected, we hope more comprehensive legislation will be implemented. 

Conversations on death will bring about a greater understanding of 

  • what terminal and progressive/incurable conditions mean to an individual, what immeasurable peace of mind knowing a legal option is available can do to vastly improve the quality of life remaining to a dying person
  • how legislation for Assisted Dying means that a person, once they have met the criteria need no longer consider taking their own life
  • or someone they love 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 or implicate loved ones.
  • that anyone, regardless of their financial situation meeting the criteria, 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) is an end of life option available in an increasing number of countries. Legislation for VAD respects personal autonomy. 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.  

It is whilst we are in good health and of sound mind, it’s 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. Our aim is to provide information through this website,  online events, newsletters and on social media to help you make informed decisions about your own health care and that of people you love. Just as the Marriage Equality campaign highlighted and continues to address inequality across many 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. 

View TedX talks on end of life choice below, read our Oireachteas submission on the Dying with Dignity Bill, and read submissions from Irish Doctors Supporting MAiD and Dignity in Dying (UK).  Take a look at the FAQ section. and if you’ve 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 matters.

“If I knew I could pass at a time that was within my control, humanely, with compassion and kindness, there would be no fear. I would waste no more life being afraid. I could live.”

Gaynor French
1970 – 2018

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 3 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, she 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, 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.