Irish assisted dying committee to recommend law change

Humanist UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson provided evidence to the Special Oireachtas committee last October

The special Oireachtas committee in the Republic of Ireland is set to recommend that legislation should be introduced to allow for assisted dying. Humanists UK welcomes this move by the Irish committee and urges Westminster to take note.

Disappointingly, just last week the UK Health and Social Care Committee released their report on assisted dying which didn’t go as far as to recommend change.

Following late-night votes on Wednesday evening, the Oireachtas Committee on Assisted Dying agreed to recommend that legislation be introduced to allow for assisted dying for people with terminal illnesses. People with incurable, irreversible, progressive and advanced illnesses that will cause death within six months will be eligible. This time limit is likely to be set at 12 months for neurodegenerative conditions.

The Committee’s final report is due to be published on 20 March.

The report will likely recommend that Irish citizens or Irish residents will be eligible, which could mean that Northern Irish people will be able to travel to Ireland for an assisted death. Bangor Humanists will be hosting an event on assisted dying on 20 March. Sign up here.

In October, Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson gave evidence to the committee. He set out the humanist case that any assisted dying law should be based on relieving unnecessary suffering, and that adults of sound mind who are intolerably suffering from a physical, incurable condition should have this end-of-life choice.

Senator Annie Hoey, who was on the committee, will address UK politicians at the All-Party Parliamentary Humanists Group meeting in Westminster on 19 March.

Nathan Stilwell, Assisted Dying Campaign for Humanists UK, said:

‘Well done to the Irish special Oireachtas committee on assisted dying for taking an evidence-based and compassionate approach. It’s brilliant to see such a bold move after just a week ago a Westminster committee did not vote for any change in the law. We look forward to reading the full report.

The UK Government must legalise assisted dying. The evidence is clear, the people are united in wanting change and not one more Brit should have to go through an unnecessarily painful death when other countries are repeatedly showing that a more compassionate route is possible.’

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI) or contact other sources of support, such as those listed on the NHS Help for suicidal thoughts webpages. Support is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, and whatever life has done to them.


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Assisted Dying Campaigner Nathan Stilwell at or phone 07456 200033.

If you have been affected by the current assisted dying legislation, and want to use your story to support a change in the law, please email

Read six reasons we need an assisted dying law.

Read more about our analysis of the assisted dying inquiry.

Read more about our campaign to legalise assisted dying in the UK.

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