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Statement from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

Statement from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) notes the recommendations of the Oireachtas Committee on Assisted Dying. RCPI opposes the introduction of any legislation supportive of assisted suicide because it is contrary to best medical practice.

This position, adopted by the RCPI governing council in 2017, was developed by a working group comprising representatives from a range of specialities within RCPI. The group reviewed research literature and the positions of medical professional bodies in Ireland and worldwide and made a recommendation to RCPI Council. A further evidence review was carried out in 2021 and RCPI shared its report and gave expert testimony to the Oireachtas Committee.

Dr Diarmuid O’Shea, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland said:  “Dying and death are part of a continuum of care for any person with a chronic or life limiting illness.  Dying with dignity in our society is made possible by the delivery of compassionate, supportive, and expert care by physicians, nurses, health and social care professionals, and others working in hospitals, hospices, GP practices, and other community settings across our country.  Such care and the people providing it should be appropriately supported and funded.”

Dr Feargal Twomey, Chair of the RCPI expert group and a Consultant in Palliative Medicine, added: “These efforts are supported by specialist palliative care teams, by the efforts of families and friends, and by extension, the support of society. Legislating for assisted suicide threatens to undermine those efforts. Introduction of legislation on assisted suicide has the potential for immense harm and unintended consequences and our view is that the potential harms outweigh the arguments in favour of legislation for assisted suicide”.

The RCPI position paper, evidence review, and submission to the Oireachtas Committee are available here.

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, which includes over 13,000 doctors, is the largest postgraduate medical training college in Ireland and provides lifelong learning.