Micheál Martin? Kicking a controversial issue over to a special committee to report back in a year or so?
Nah, can’t be right.
Breaking: Government to table an amendment to Dying with Dignity Bill to allow a special committee examine issue…could delay passage of bill up to a year.. @Ginosocialist informed by ministers @HMcEntee and @DonnellyStephen in Dáil canteen in last 30 minutes #iestaff
— McConnellDaniel (@McConnellDaniel) September 29, 2020
Opponents of the assisted dying bill shouldn’t get their hopes up, of course. A Dáil special committee on this issue is only going to come back with one recommendation. The purpose of the committee, much like previous special committees, will be to serve as a platform for experts with the correct views on the subject. They might add Ronán Mullen in, too, just to have a villain for social media.
What will end up happening, most likely, is that the committee will make a recommendation that there should be some form of legislation on the matter, and this in turn will be kicked over to the Department of Health to draft a proposed bill.
The whole process should be complete, and ready to act upon, just in time for Mr. Martin to leave office, and Mr. Varadkar, who’s generally more enthusiastic about the social-liberal crusade, to come back in and push it through as the latest evidence of what a compassionate country we are.
For the avoidance of doubt, since some readers have queried the matter, there’s no need for a referendum on this issue, as there was for marriage and abortion. Those who were drafting the constitution, or amending it in the 1980s, didn’t ever put in a provision saying that it is unconstitutional to help old people kill themselves. Presumably they didn’t imagine, in their innocence, that this was the kind of proposal that an Irish Government would ever bring forward.
Anyway, opponents of assisted dying are getting, well, a stay of execution.
But those who closely observed the abortion referendum should be under no illusions about what one of these Oireachtas special committees is supposed to do, and will do.