THE partner of a Donegal right to die campaigner who died almost four years ago has said he hopes a film to be screened next week will help reignite government debate.
Marie Fleming, who was originally from Lifford, had suffered with Multiple Sclerosis for much of her life after being diagnosed with the disease in 1986.
She died in December 2013 after a lengthy battle to end her own life with the help of her partner, Tom Curran, failed. The law lecturer, who lived in Wicklow, was aged 59 and was a mother of two.
In December 2012 Ms Fleming brought her fight to challenge the ban on assisted suicide to the High Court. She had wanted her partner to be able to assist her death without fear of prosecution. When the High Court ruled against it, she bravely appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, but in April 2013 her legal battle came to an end when it upheld the original ruling.
A garda investigation into the death of the right to die campaigner was launched in October 2016 and Mr Curran is a subject of the probe.
A short documentary film, ‘An Act of Love’, will feature at the Disappear Here Film Festival in Ballyliffin Hotel next week as part of Culture Night.
Mr Curran said the film tells of the fight undertaken by Marie for her right to chose the time of her own death and to allow him to help her die, as was her wish.
Speaking to the Donegal News, Mr Curran, who hopes to attend the film festival, said the screening of the documentary in Donegal will be a “fitting tribute” to his late partner.
“The short film of 15 minutes in length is about Marie. We were approached by students here who asked if they could do a piece on us for their final project. They came down to South Wicklow where Marie and I lived, and where I still live, to film. That was the last I heard of it until I got word they won a documentary prize and it will be screened as part of the Disappear Here Film Festival.”
Mr Curran said that while the garda investigation into Marie’s death is currently ongoing, it has reached a stalemate.
A volunteer with Exit International – a worldwide organisation which provides information and guidance on assisted suicide and end of life matters – Mr Curran hopes the documentary will shine a fresh light on the right to die with dignity campaign.
“In December 2015, John Halligan TD presented to the Dáil a Private Members’ Bill on Dying with Dignity Bill. There was a delay in this being presented when he was later appointed Junior Minister, but it is hoped it will be presented later this month.
“Marie highlighted the issue and gave it a human face. Marie had MS when I met her, but it wasn’t noticeable. It was relapsing-remitting once a year and for the rest of the year she was actually very active and we travelled a lot.
“Over time, MS took more and more control whereby when she had a relapsed she would make a 100 per cent recovery, but as time went on that recovery was only 70 per cent, and so it moved from relapsing-remitting to progressive. By the time of her death she only had movement in her eyes.”
Mr Curran continues to travel the world bringing awareness to the right to die campaign. He will go to Toronto and London shortly.
“I receive at least two calls a month from Irish people looking for help,” he said.
The Disappear Here Film Festival is a first of its kind in Donegal. It is a three-day festival in Ballyliffin as part of Culture Night, beginning on Friday, September 22.
‘An Act of Love’ will be screened in Ballyliffin Hotel on Monday, September 25, at 11am.
Over this coming weekend films will be screened in a specially constructed 100 seat cinema in Ballyliffin Hotel, a mobile cinema in the church car park and a secret cinema in magical venue, to be confirmed.
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Posted: 10:26 am September 20, 2017
DONEGAL-born Marie Fleming, who lost a landmark Supreme Court right-to-die challenge earlier this year, has passed away overnight.