Campaigners for legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide in Italy are planning to set up a sister organisation in Ireland as part of a strategy to force a Europe-wide change in law.
Exit-Italia founder Emilio Coveri, who was in Dublin yesterday, said he felt the time was right in Ireland for an organised lobby to open up debate on the subject.
The Italian group, which has almost 3,000 members, is following closely the case taken by Co Wicklow woman Marie Fleming, who has asked the State to allow her partner help her end her life without threat of prosecution.
Ms Fleming, who is terminally ill with multiple sclerosis, had her appeal turned down by the High Court earlier this year and the Supreme Court is due to give its ruling on her appeal against that decision on Monday.
Dr Coveri said he is looking for an organiser to oversee building Exit-Ireland but in the meantime, Exit-Italia will deal with membership applications and queries.
He said he set up the organisation after the distressing deaths of his father and uncle, who he believes suffered cruelly and unnecessarily with terminal illness.
“I promised to myself that I wouldn’t die like that, that I would do anything to avoid that kind of death and that I would make a plan to die with dignity,” he said.
“The purpose of Exit-Italia was to have a debate and to speed up the process of legalising the ‘living will’ so that people can put in writing how they wish to die if they have terminal illness or if they become ill in the future.”
Exit-Italia have links with Swiss groups Dignitas, Exit International, and Lifecircle.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved