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IHF Statement on the Final Report of the Joint Committee on Assisted Dying

An image with text that reads, "IHF Statement on the Final Report of the Joint Committee on Assisted Dying."

Irish Hospice Foundation acknowledges the work of the Joint Committee on Assisted Dying and welcomes their recommendations for greater funding for palliative care. 

Irish Hospice Foundation sought an informed, inclusive and robust debate and an in-depth examination of the issues related to assisted dying. We believe that the Committee has delivered on this. In its hearings since June 2023, the Committee has heard from witnesses about the complexities and nuances related to the dying, death and bereavement experience in Ireland and in other countries. 

Following the publication of the report today, our focus will now be on prioritising action on the recommendation that seeks to publish the updated palliative care strategy, which is long overdue and much needed. The other recommendation calling for a substantial increase in resources and funding for, and information about, palliative care services, is one that we will be highlighting again as Budget 2025 negotiations begin. We also acknowledge and commend the recommendation that recognises the important role of informal carers and calls for additional resources to deliver funding for respite provision. 

In November 2023, we had the opportunity to appear before the Committee to discuss the topic of ensuring access to palliative care and social supports. We look forward to working with Government to ensure that the recommendations that we sought to be included in the Committee’s report are brought to bear. Key among these was our call for the long-awaited publication of the new National Adult Palliative Care Policy with an agreed multi-annual investment and implementation plan.  

Paula Reilly, CEO of Irish Hospice Foundation, said: 

We acknowledge the way in which the Committee has addressed a very complex and sensitive issue. It is our view that to support people to die and grieve well, there are fundamental structures and investments needed to improve services, information, access, conversations, and knowledge around dying, death and bereavement currently in Ireland. 

It is a matter for Government initially to consider how and when the Committee’s recommendations regarding new legislation permitting assisted dying might be progressed. Irish Hospice Foundation indicated our neutral position on this issue to the Committee and that view has not changed. We note that the Committee specifically recommends that palliative care and assisted dying operate completely separately. 

However, we look forward to working with Government to ensure that the recommendations concerning end-of-life care outlined in the Committee’s report are progressed. These recommendations must be addressed regardless of how a person is supported to die in Ireland.

Finally, we would like to have seen a greater emphasis on the importance of delivering improved bereavement support in the Committee recommendations. Bereavement is an area that is often overlooked in discussions about dying and death. Grief is part of the continuum that starts at the point of diagnosis, and bereavement supports are needed as part of the delivery of end-of-life care.