Shane Coleman on assisted dying: 'I don't trust the politicians on this'

An Oireachtas Committee on Assisted Dying is set to recommend that laws are introduced
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.54 7 Mar 2024

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Shane Coleman on assisted dyin...

Shane Coleman on assisted dying: 'I don't trust the politicians on this'

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.54 7 Mar 2024

Share this article

We should not trust politicians when it comes to law changes that would introduce assisted dying in Ireland, Shane Coleman has warned.

An Oireachtas Committee is today set to recommend the legalisation of assisted dying.

It would only be allowed if the person has a terminal illness and a short time to live and would only apply to people with a medical condition that is incurable and irreversible.


A majority of the TDs and Senators on the committee have voted that the law should be changed to allow someone to receive assistance to end their life if they have between six to 12 months to live.

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, presenter Shane Coleman said he has big concerns.

"I have a huge compassion - and obviously everybody has huge compassion - for people in those circumstances," he said.

"But I would have big reservations about this.

"I've huge admiration for politicians in many ways but I don't trust them on issues like this.

"I think they go with the prevailing wind so that makes me nervous."

'Pressure people feel'

Shane said other countries with similar laws have been quick to loosen them.

"There are restrictions there... but we've seen in other countries they've been brought in with restrictions and then those restrictions have been changed pretty quickly," he said.

"I worry about the pressure people feel that they're being a burden and feeling as if they have to go for this.

"I look at cases like in Belgium - a particularly liberal example - but people with psychiatric conditions, children since 2014.

"We've seen trials where families have taken actions against doctors claiming people have taken their own lives because of a failed relationship.

"In the Netherlands we've seen doctors accused of failing to secure proper consent - it just all makes me a little bit nervous."

'Fundamental taboo'

Co-presenter Ciara Kelly said we should not leap into the changes without really considering the issues.

"I have travelled a journey on this one; for many years when I was a medic, I was against it," she said.

I don't think we should leap into this [thinking], 'We voted for same-sex marriage, we voted for abortion so we're liberal and we're progressive – I don't think we should think like that.

"This is a very serious thing, we are taking a life - it is the most serious thing that you can do.

"Having said that I would, provided we are iron clad on our ethics and we have every caveat box ticked, support it."

A hospital worker wheels a patient on a trolley through a ward after an NHS operation A hospital worker wheels a patient on a trolley through a ward, 5-5-16. Image:

Ciara said the issue is one of the greatest fundamental taboos.

"I have been at the deathbed of many people - I'm a doctor - and I have sat beside people as they have exited the world," she said.

"I have seen good deaths but I have also seen bad deaths.

"On this very fundamental human level, I would support this but I would be absolutely rigid on how careful, strict and ethical that this must be.

"This is one of the greatest fundamental taboos of mankind.

"To take a life under these circumstances you have to be very, very careful that you're doing it for the right reasons," she added.

The Joint Committee on Assisted Dying was set up last year to consider laws around a person's right to end their life.

Main image: Shane Coleman presenting Newstalk Breakfast, 7-3-24. Image: Newstalk

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