The convicted murderer who helps run Exit International

A pro-euthanasia activist has helped an Irish man struggling with mental health problems to access assisted suicide in Switzerland without the knowledge of the man’s family, the Oireachtas Committee on Assisted Dying has been told. The activist belongs to Exit International, the ultra-radical ‘right to die’ organisation, the committee heard.

On Tuesday, Emer Maguire told the committee that her Uncle George died by assisted suicide in September this year with the help of the activist. It turns out that their uncle was also a member of Exit.

Notably, this has caused no media or political reaction, whereas RTE did widely broadcast the testimony to the committee of a man with Motor Neuron disease who wished to end his life by assisted suicide and has died in the meantime.

Exit International members have a history of this kind of activism, and one of the foremost among them is Sean Davison, the New Zealand-born director of Exit UK who was convicted of murder in South Africa in 2019 after he helped three people to die by assisted suicide.

One of the people Davison helped to kill herself was his own mother. It was his sister who ultimately reported him to the authorities.

Struggling to hold back her tears, Mrs Maguire told the committee that her uncle was in good physical health, though he suffered from mental health issues, and travelled on his own to Switzerland, where he was met, she claims, by the Exit activist. She says the activist had organised her uncle’s application for assisted suicide in a clinic there and identified his body after the lethal procedure.

The family members were unaware of their relative’s intentions, and they were informed only after their uncle’s death and cremation.

“Those closer to him were aware that he was struggling with mental health and encouraged him to seek help. However, he managed to master most of this, with most of the people around him”, Emer Maguire said.

Only after his death, the family discovered that their uncle was a member of Exit for fifteen years. The Irish branch is headed by Tom Curran.

Speaking on RTE’s ‘Claire Byrne Live’ two years ago, Mr Curran said that he supported the “right” of a healthy woman to die by assisted suicide in Switzerland because she did not want to continuing living once her sick husband had died in the same way.

Last month he was invited to address the Oireachtas Committee on Assisted Dying, where he advocated for the Swiss model to be implemented here.

The founder of Exit International, Philip Nitschke, also known as “Dr Death”, held suicide workshops in Ireland in the past.

Dr Nitschke is also behind a suicide machine called “Sarco”, short for sarcophagus, approved for use in Switzerland. The suicide pod releases nitrogen and supposedly kills within 10 minutes.

Sean Davison moved to England after being released from house arrest in South Africa.

This conviction happened while he was also the president of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies. This same organisation will have its next global conference here in Ireland next year, hosted by End of Life Ireland, the main group campaigning for the legalisation of euthanasia here.

Emer Maguire presented her uncle’s case to the Committee to highlight the shocking impact that assisted suicide has on families and friends, but this case also shows the malign presence of Exit in Ireland. This organisation and its extreme ideology have received no proper scrutiny by the media.