Right-to-die campaigner says Gail O’Rorke trial should never have taken place

Tom Curran
Tom Curran

Right- to-die campaigner Tom Curran has said that he believes the trial of Gail O’Rorke for assisting the suicide of her friend should never have taken place.

Mr Curran was one of a large number of people who were present throughout the eight day trial which ended in a not guilty verdict on the charge that MS O’Rorke tried to help MS sufferer Bernadette Forde end her life by traveling to a euthanasia clinic in Switzerland.

Mr Curran’s partner Marie Fleming, who also suffered with MS, took a case to the Supreme Court in 2013, challenging the ban on assisted suicide. The Supreme Court found against her but said that the DPP may use “discretion” in prosecuting such cases. Ms Fleming passed away in December 2013.

Speaking to reporters outside court yesterday Mr Curran said that Ms O’Rorke should never have found herself in court: “Guilty or not guilty, this trial should never have taken place considering what the Supreme Court judge said about using the same discretion that they use in the UK.”

Gail O'Rorke

He said he was shocked that the Director of Public Prosecutions brought charges against Ms O’Rorke after the Supreme Court case, “considering the fact that Marie had gone to the trouble of challenging the constitutionality of the law, to protect me, not to protect her.

He continued: “Quite recently 53 per cent of people said they would help a loved one to die. That’s 53 percent of the people who would be prepared to break this law and that says there is something very definitely wrong with this law.”

“But apart from that, today is about celebration. Gail has been found not guilty irrespective of whether she should have been here or not so it’s just time to go home and place the trial behind us and to make sure there are no other trials like this.”

Mr Curran was the Irish representative of euthanasia organisation Exit International and visited Ms Forde before her death in June 2011.

He said Ms Forde was a very strong woman. “She got what she wanted just like Marie got what she wanted. She had a peaceful death and we’ll leave them both in peace.”

He said Ms O’Rorke was “very relieved” and “very emotional” following the verdict.

Ms O’Rorke didn’t speak publicly afterwards but released a statement welcoming the “hoped for verdict.”

“The last four years and in particular the last three weeks have been very difficult for my family and me,” the statement read. “The family of my dear late friend Bernadette Forde has had to endure the intrusions into her privacy which she always guarded so carefully.”

Ms O’Rorke thanked her family, friends and legal team for their support throughout the “truly gruelling ordeal”. She also thanked the judge and jury as well as the gardaí for “their compassionate investigation.”