In the first case of its kind in Ireland, an Irish woman is charged with assisting in the suicide of her friend, in Dublin, four years ago.
Gail O’Rorke (43), from Tallaght, is accused of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the suicide of her friend Bernadette Forde, between the dates of March 10 and June 6, 2011. Forde was a 51-year-old suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic autoimmune disorder affecting movement, sensation, and bodily functions.
O’Rorke was charged last year when the case was first heard. It was postponed due to to a lengthy period of discovery.
If convicted O’Rorke could face 14 years in prison. At the Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday, Judge Patricia Ryan remanded O’Rorke in custody until Thursday. The trial is expected to last two weeks.
Assisted suicide is illegal in Ireland under section 2 (2) of the Criminal Law (Suicide) Act 1993.
Earlier this year the Supreme Court ruled that Ireland’s Constitution contains neither a right to suicide nor a right to arrange for the end of someone’s life. This ruling came following the case of former university lecturer Marie Fleming, who battled in Irish courts for the right to die.
Fleming also suffered from advanced stages of multiple sclerosis and took a court case to test whether her family would be prosecuted if they helped her to take her own life. She argued that the ban on assisted suicide in Ireland discriminated against people with disabilities and was a breach of her constitutional rights.
In court she said, “I’ve come to court today, whilst I still can use my speech, my voice, to ask you to assist me in having a peaceful, dignified death . . . in the arms of Tom and my children.
Fleming lost her battle with MS and passed away at her home in the arms of husband Tom in December 2013.