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High-profile campaigners back assisted dying Bill

People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny is tabling the Dying with Dignity Bill in the Dail on Tuesday.

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People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny and CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan outside Leinster House on Monday.Mr Kenny is tabling the Dying with Dignity Bill in the Dail on Tuesday.Picture supplied by People Before Profit.

People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny and CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan outside Leinster House on Monday.Mr Kenny is tabling the Dying with Dignity Bill in the Dail on Tuesday.Picture supplied by People Before Profit.

People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny and CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan outside Leinster House on Monday.Mr Kenny is tabling the Dying with Dignity Bill in the Dail on Tuesday.Picture supplied by People Before Profit.

CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan is among a number of high-profile campaigners calling for TDs to back a proposed Bill on assisted dying.

People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny is tabling the Dying with Dignity Bill in the Dail on Tuesday.

It has received the backing of terminally ill Ms Phelan, who said she wants to “go gently” when she chooses to.

Mr Kenny said the Bill would make provision for assistance in achieving a “dignified and peaceful” end of life.

I do not want to die but I am going to die. Allow me to die with dignity, for my sake and for my young children's sakeVicky Phelan

The Bill would give a legal and medical right to authorise voluntary assisted dying when a person is suffering a terminal illness.

This would give a medical practitioner the legal right to provide assistance to a qualifying person to end his or her own life.

Ms Phelan said she is supporting the Bill because she believes the time is right to have a debate on the issue of dying with dignity.

���We voted overwhelmingly in 2018 in favour of repealing the eighth amendment to remove the constitutional ban on abortion,” she said.

“I am hoping that the people of Ireland, and the 160 TDs who serve us, will support this Bill and allow terminally ill people to end their life peacefully when the time comes.

“For those people who are opposed to assisted dying, I would ask them to put themselves in my shoes, and imagine what it is like to be me, for even one minute, and how frightening it is to know that I will most likely die in pain.

“All I am asking is to be allowed to go gently, when my pain starts to become unmanageable. I do not want to die but I am going to die. Allow me to die with dignity, for my sake and for my young children’s sake.”

Mr Kenny said: “I appeal to my fellow TDs to support the progress of this Bill when it’s due for debate later this year. I’m calling on party leaders to allow a free vote/vote of conscience, if there isn’t a clear party position to progress the Bill.

“Assisted dying is not about ending life, it’s about ending suffering when you no longer have the option of living.”

The Bill has also received the backing of Tom Curran, whose wife Marie Fleming challenged the ban on assisted suicide in the courts.

Mr Curran said: “Here in Ireland we pride ourselves on our freedom to control our own lives but, if we care about the way we live, we must also care about the way we die.

“In our compassionate Ireland we still insist that some people, often against their express wishes, have a prolonged and sometimes painful end of life.

“The right to die on our own terms is possibly the last civil and human right to be given the consideration it deserves here in Ireland.

“Even the Supreme Court of Ireland agreed that if it was in their power to grant this right to Marie they would, but if this is a right that should have been available to one person then it should be available to every other person who finds themselves in similar circumstances.”

Gail O’Rorke, who was prosecuted in 2013 for allegedly assisting her friend, Bernadette Forde, to die by suicide, said: “This is about choice and a societal issue that needs to be discussed openly and honestly.

“I know if Bernadette was with us today, she would be willing us on to change the law.”

PA