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Dying with dignity

Terms of reference agreed for special committee on assisted dying

PBP TD Gino Kenny has said that he hopes to see the Committee established before Christmas.

THE ESTABLISHMENT OF a Special Oireachtas Committee on voluntary assisted dying has moved closer, with terms of reference being agreed by the Dáil Reform Committee.

Last week, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl told the Dáil that the committee would be established “as soon as humanly possible”, after People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny said that its delay was “extremely frustrating”.

Under the terms of reference, the Special Committee on Assisted Dying would be given a broad remit to allow it hold an in-depth study of the issue.

The Committee would be given powers to examine how voluntary assisted dying would work in Ireland, alongside looking at safeguards.

It will also examine whether or not there are constitutional issues with assisted dying, alongside other legal or ethical issues.

Other provisions include identifying possible unintended consequences of assisted dying legislation.

Kenny, who initially tabled the Dying with Dignity bill in 2020, has welcomed the the agreement of the terms of reference, saying that it had been a “long and protracted process”.

“It has been a very long and protracted process since the Justice Committee made its recommendation that this special committee would be established to look at this very important and complex issue.

“This is a very important development, and it is crucial that Ireland begins a meaningful and open national discussion on the issue of assisted dying and that this Committee is established before Christmas.”

The Committee had been expected to begin in October, with its formation being initially agreed by the Justice Committee in July 2021.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin had previously said that he believed the issue of voluntary assisted dying needed further “teasing out” and called it a “very complex issue“.

Last week, Martin did not give any assurances that the bill would be passed through the Oireachtas before the end of the Government’s term.

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