Gail O’Rorke said she collapsed and “screamed and screamed” after she was told she would be charged with assisting in the suicide of her friend Bernadette Forde.
Last month, Ms O’Rorke, aged 43, from Tallaght, was acquitted of ordering a lethal dose of barbiturates from Mexico which were later taken by Ms Forde, aged 51, to end her life.
She was also found not guilty of “procuring” the suicide of her friend by helping to organise her funeral before her death and of attempting to help Ms Forde get to the Swiss euthanasia clinic Dignitas.
In an interview with the Sunday Business Post, Ms O’Rorke described how she had broken down after seven hours of questioning by gardaí.
“The questions were getting more serious. I was starting to get concerned because the gardaí were relaying things that other people had said in their statements. I realised that there were lots of people being interviewed.
“When Bernadette was making her plans, we all agreed that we would not say who was with her at the end. We wanted to respect her because she was willing to make that ultimate sacrifice, but then it got serious and I couldn’t continue with that lie. I knew it was time to tell the truth,” she said.
Ms O’Rorke said she “broke down and told the truth” after a garda passed her a note stating they knew someone was with Ms Forde when she died.
“My lips were just sealed shut. This was about seven hours into the interview and I just said nothing. He looked at me and said, ‘Gail, was there somebody there when Bernadette died?’ I started to cry. He had a big A4 pad and he flipped it over. Written on the back in big blue handwriting was [the name]. He shoved it across the table to me and he said: ‘It’s OK Gail, we already know’.”
When she was leaving the Garda station, she said an officer told her: “Gail, you did yourself no harm in that room. But Bernadette has left a pile of shite behind her.”
Ms O’Rorke said the next time she was contacted by gardaí she was told she was being charged. It was “the most horrific day. I’ll never forget it as long as I live”.
Ms O’Rorke said her conscience was clear that she had not let her friend down. “Everyone knew what she was doing. They all knew, my conscience is clear. I never let her down.”
She said she hoped the law on assisted suicide needed to change. “Everyone says things need to change. The thing about assisted suicide is it is like abortion, or divorce. It is not for everybody, but at least let those who want it have it.
“I know the election is coming up and they don’t want to rock the boat. So I don’t know if they’ll kick it down the road to another government. Or maybe they’ll man up and see that this needs to change. Change would mean that people could pass peacefully and that they could have better structures to the decisions that they make.”
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