Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Suicide case 'could go to Europe'

Marie Fleming took her appeal to the Supreme Court after losing a legal challenge at the High Court

A terminally ill Irish woman will take her landmark case for assisted suicide to Europe if she loses her appeal, supporters have revealed.

Ireland's highest court will rule on Monday on whether multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferer Marie Fleming can choose to die peacefully at home in the arms of her partner Tom Curran without leaving him with a threat of jail.

The former university lecturer took her appeal to the seven-judge Supreme Court after losing a legal challenge at the High Court in Dublin.

Mr Curran admitted he is prepared for the worst and revealed his partner will consider taking her case to Europe if defeated again.

"We are not expecting them to overturn the judgment of the High Court," he said. "We will just have to wait and see and we will have to look at it from there. Europe is an option, it depends on the judgment. If there's something in it that will allow us to go further we will.

"But I'm preparing us for the worst and I'm assuming it will go against us," added the 65-year-old carer.

Ms Fleming, 59, of Arklow, Co Wicklow, can only move her head, lives in constant pain and cannot swallow. She suffers choking sessions which she fears will eventually kill her, the court was told during a four-day hearing in February and March.

Ms Fleming, who is in the final stages of MS, is not asking for someone to kill her, but wants assistance in putting a mask to her face or fitting a cannula in her arm, which she would activate by shaking her head or blowing into.

In her case against Ireland, the Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the mother-of-two claims section 2.2 of the Criminal Law (Suicide) Act, which renders it an offence to aide, abet, counsel or procure the suicide of another, is unconstitutional on grounds that it breaches her personal autonomy rights under the Irish Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights.

Her legal team argued the ban is discriminatory and deprives an "entirely innocent" group of severely disabled people from suicide. However, the state argued that the blanket ban on assisted suicide does not discriminate against Ms Fleming as no-one has a constitutional right to be assisted with their death.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz