Euthanasia expert to host Irish workshop

EUTHANASIA advocate, Dr Philip Nitschke, who will hold a workshop in Dublin this week said there was already enough Irish interest in his DIY death techniques to make his visit worthwhile.

About 20 people are expected to attend the workshop and the doctor also confirmed that he will be visiting a number of people too sick to attend the group meeting to discuss end of life choices.

Dr Nitschke, who runs Exit International, that informs people how to end their own lives, addressed about 100 people who turned up to hear him speak in London this week.

Under both Irish and British law it is illegal to aid, abet, counsel or procure the suicide of another.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said it had not investigated Dr Nitschke and had not received any complaints about him.

A Garda spokesman said they were not going to engage in a hypothetical discussion about what any individual might or might not do.

Dr Nitschke said people who attended the workshops were mainly elderly people who were well.

“Suicide is not a crime so we are making it clear that, if you plan ahead while you can, then, if things deteriorate, you have got that option,” he said.

“The Irish interest in our organisation is enough for us to make the effort to get to Dublin and to see what happens,” he said.

Dr Nitschke does not believe that the right of people to end their lives should be confined to the terminally ill.

“We have to recognise that individuals have the autonomy to make decisions, or are we suggesting that every person who shows any sign of taking this course should be in some way constrained? There are obviously some people who do think that, but I am not one of them.”

The Pro-Life Campaign described Dr Nitschke as “a fanatical exponent of euthanasia”.

PLC spokeswoman, Dr Ruth Cullen, said the mark of any civilised society was how it looked after its most vulnerable members.

“Dr Nitschke’s philosophy is the complete opposite of this,” she said.

Fine Gael mental health spokesman and president of the Irish Association of Suicidology Dan Neville said more resources should go into the provision of hospice care in Ireland.

“I have sympathy for people who are terminally ill and seeking a way out of their suffering. I am also aware of what happens when you do introduce euthanasia,” he said.

“In other countries where euthanasia has been introduced people suffering from depression who need treatment, not death, are now taking their own lives,” said Mr Neville.

He was also concerned that moves would also be made towards assisted suicide for social conditions.

* Friday’s workshop will take place from 1-5pm at Buswells Hotel, Molesworth Street, Dublin.

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