First person to be prosecuted for assisting suicide in Ireland describes experience on Late Late Show

A carer who became the first person in Ireland prosecuted for assisting suicide has talked about her relationship with her deceased friend and the times she faced questioning from gardaí.

Tallaght woman Gail O’Rorke was charged over the booking of flights to Switzerland between March 10 and April 20, 2011 for MS sufferer Bernadette Forde, 51, to travel to the Dignitas clinic.

Ms Forde, a former employee with Guinness in Dublin, died at her home in Morehampton Mews, Donnybrook, Dublin 4 on June 6, 2011.

Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on tonight's Late Late Show, Ms O’Rorke spoke about the close personal bond she developed with Ms Forde.

"We just kind of had a spark. She was a quirky lady, she wasn't very tolerant of people in her home sometimes," she said.

"We just hit it off. Gradually over time it just became a very strong friendship."

As her illness developed however, Ms Forde's talk turned to thoughts of ending her life and travelling to assisted suicide clinic Dignitas in Switzerland, said Ms O’Rorke.

"The terminology she used was "put me down and post me home," said Ms O’Rorke.

"She wanted no fuss."

She added: "She was really unwell, the indignities of MS had kicked in more than she ever wanted to. She was incontinent."

After beginning to make arrangements for the flight, Ms O’Rorke described the scene in a Rathgar travel agency before "panic" set in as she realised she was to be questioned by gardaí.

Later in the show, she described how she unwittingly posted an order for the substance her friend used to take her own life.

Ms O’Rorke also revealed that once the substance was received, Bernadette waited some time before deciding to use it.

"When she had it on her table, that was like a security blanket, and funnily enough it gave her a reason to live."

She described Bernadette's final days, which included watching the British Queen's and US President Barack Obama's visits to Ireland, and recording the final of Britain's Got Talent so that her niece could watch it.

Ms O’Rorke later described the moment where the Garda Detective in charge of the investigation - "a lovely man" - told her she was to be charged.

"He said: 'Hiya, Gayle - they charged ya'."

In her 2015 trial, Ms O’Rorke was also found not guilty of two charges in connection with the suicide on the direction of Judge Patrick McCartan.

Ms O'Rorke was initially cleared of aiding and abetting Ms Forde's suicide between April 20 and June 6 in 2011 by helping her to procure and administer a toxic substance.

Ms O’Rorke was also found not guilty of procuring the suicide by making funeral arrangements from June 4-6 2011 in advance of the death.

She described her emotions leaving the court.

"It was like the torture had ended," she said.

"I never felt alone in the dock - I honestly, genuinely felt that she was there. "


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