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Seomra Spraoi provides venue for assisted suicide workshop

category dublin | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Friday February 18, 2011 12:44author by Social Gaff - Seomra Spraoi Report this post to the editors

Pro-life campaigners had called on Gardai to shut down event

Seomra Spraoi, Dublin’s autonomous social centre, yesterday provided the venue for an assisted suicide/voluntary euthanasia talk and workshop given by Australian doctor and author, Philip Nitschke. At least two other workshops on his tour – in Belfast and in Sussex – have been cancelled due to pressure put on the venues.

'Pro-life' protesters outside Seomra Spraoi yesterday during the assisted suicide workshop. Pic: William Hederman
'Pro-life' protesters outside Seomra Spraoi yesterday during the assisted suicide workshop. Pic: William Hederman

When Dr Nitschke last visited Dublin in March 2010, his controversial workshop was rescheduled four times for different venues as “pro-life” groups intimidated each venue into cancelling. Finally, Seomra Spraoi hosted the event.

Nitschke’s organisation, Exit International, provides information on assisted suicide and campaigns for the right of people to make informed decisions about when and how they will die.

Up to 40 campaigners, including from the Christian Solidarity Party and the Life Institute, protested outside yesterday’s event. They held placards saying, “Lock up your grannies - Dr Death is here.”

Today’s event was attended by about 35 people, plus more than 15 journalists and photographers. Following the public talk, there was a closed workshop for Exit International members and terminally ill people or those over 55. Many of those who attended expressed gratitude to the Seomra Spraoi collective for facilitating the event. One couple had travelled from the Isle of Mann for the event.

Dr Nitschke’s visit to Ireland was heralded by sensational coverage in several newspapers. The front-page headline of last Monday’s Metro Herald (14 February) warned: “Laptop of death lands in Ireland”, while Wednesday’s Irish Daily Mail (16 February) front page screamed: “Dr Death must be thrown out.” The Mail sought to link the event with the issue of suicide among young people in Ireland.

It had been reported that Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute had contacted the Garda Commissioner, asking that the event be shut down.

The event included a demonstration of Dr Nitschke’s device that allows a person to administer themselves with a lethal injection. Nitschke used the laptop-operated device when assisting several terminally ill patients to end their lives in 1996 in Australia. Voluntary euthanasia was legal for a brief period in the Northern Territory during that year.

The 63-year old called for a change in the law in Ireland that makes it illegal to assist terminally ill people in ending their own lives. “There needs to be changes to legislation so that in certain circumstances helping someone to die is not a crime," he said. He pointed out that suicide or attempted suicide is not a crime in Ireland.

At the start of the public talk, one of the Seomra Spraoi collective explained that the collective did “not take a position on euthanasia, but supports the freedom to meet and speak without fear of intimidation.” He said the collective did not receive or seek funding from any local or government authority or the EU. This autonomy meant it was less likely to be subject to pressure from authorities, lobby groups or the mainstream media.

Details of the cancellations in Belfast and Eastbourne can be seen on Exit International’s home page:

Dr Nitschke demonstrates the assisted suicide device. Pic: William Hederman
Dr Nitschke demonstrates the assisted suicide device. Pic: William Hederman

The view from inside. Pic: William Hederman
The view from inside. Pic: William Hederman

Christian Solidarity Party. Pic: William Hederman
Christian Solidarity Party. Pic: William Hederman

Rosette. Pic: William Hederman
Rosette. Pic: William Hederman

author by Social Gaff - Seomra Spraoipublication date Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:59Report this post to the editors

You can read an account by “pro-life” campaigners of their success in having last year’s event cancelled at four venues:

(NB: this relates to the March 2010 event rather than yesterday's)

For example:
"Nitschke’s first publicized booking was with the Outhouse in Capel Street - a community venue purchased and maintained by the HSE. The Life Institute called the HSE and made a formal complaint. We then called the office of the CEO of the HSE, Professor Brendan Drumm, and pointed out that it was not acceptable that a taxpayer-funded venue be used for this objectionable event. We also called Dublin City Council, and we sent out an alert encouraging others to do the same. Within 48 the event had been cancelled in that venue."

The account goes on to describe how they pressured a further three venues into cancelling, until the "oddballs in Seomra Spraoi" facilitated it.

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Fri Feb 18, 2011 14:21Report this post to the editors

how you deal with these boneheads.

Maybe set up a Super Pro-Life Movement and demand every ovum be fertilised as it is a potential person who must not be aborted by allowing menstrual murder. You could even make your slogan 'Barefoot and Pregnant, Every Woman's Right'. Demand a referendum on the murderous waste of human potential in the refusal to fertilise ova of the religious celibates driving this drivel. Well, they are theologically immunised against logic, so how else do you approach it?

And, if you are not pro life, why have you not committed suicide yet?Like a lot of these loony right cases, they colonise language and appropriate a false moral high-ground. Are the rest of us pro-death? Reclaim that ground as the prior right of the born, primarily the women whose health and lives are being imposed upon, but also on behalf of their already extant children who can be damaged if she is incapable of fulfilling her parental responsibilities because of ill health.

I grew up in Crumlin in the fifties, Dickens would have recognised it from an earlier century, families of up to, and even beyond, twenty kids living in dire poverty while John Charles was sipping port with Dev and the nuns.

As one of our more cynical teachers had it, ' Lads, the reason 'For the Poor' is written on that box in the church porch, is because its for the fill'. Its only afterwards I realised what risk he was taking, if overheard.

author by radarpublication date Fri Feb 18, 2011 15:18Report this post to the editors

There is something a bit odd about a country with such a high suicide and attempted suicide rate hosting an event on how to do it, isn't there?

author by Soundmigration - per cappublication date Fri Feb 18, 2011 15:44Report this post to the editors

I think there is a distinction between categories". One are (for the most part) elderly human beings living with a terminal illness, massive pain and no possibility of recovery substantive quality of live as we know it, or people who as they get older are aware that this is a real possibility. They seek to discuss as informed human beings about the idea and possibility of ending their own life with a sense of empowerment and self control. Very few of the suicides within this state fall into this category. I assume, though could be wrong, that that is one reason why the term euthanasia is used. ie To make such distinctions between this and the high instances of suicide in this country.

The high levels of suicide in our population need a little more unpacking if we are to fully understand it and change it.

There no doubt is a massive philosophical/moral minefield. One the other hand is the idea of what right does anyone have to dictate to those suffering that they much continue to on underpining of philosophical/moral abstract arguments.

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Fri Feb 18, 2011 16:18Report this post to the editors

there is a distinction.

Suicide is the premature termination of your own life from a state of dispair.

Euthenasia is more the allowing of nature to take its course, rather than artificially prolonging a finishing life. Fado, fado this was often hastened by the same religious run hospitals by the simple expedient of allowing the dying to contract pneumonia, which was known as ' the friend of the dying', if I have my phraseology right.
An overdose of morphine was often allowed as an act of mercy, before these moral crusaders decided to inflict unneccessary suffering on the terminally ill.
Where it becomes problematical for many is when altzheimers is a factor, obviating personal volition.
Our artifically prolonged lives have made a problem which previous generations would have envied, as their children died in infancy, and women died in childbirth.
The fear to discuss it probably stems from the old horror of the unprepared for the inevitability of personal non-existence. If we were adults we would be prepared to discuss it with children before the hereditary fears are transferred down. Irrational fear is a socially communicable disease.

author by Your friendly neighborhood...?publication date Fri Feb 18, 2011 16:26Report this post to the editors

I think it is great.

Its nice to see open and frank discussions about such possibilities. I agree with the above poster on most points. Its about the freedom of oranising without fear, freedom of speech and most importantly, freedom of CHOICE.

Its exciting that 'seomra spraoi' is the space to take on the discussion. Revoluntionary some might say?nAnyway, well done to the whole collective for supporting the discussion.

My morals say no, but there ya go! I'm glad others who disagree with me got the information they went for.

As for the aspect of suicide in general. I dont think thsi speech will mak a difference. Changing the society we live in will only do that

author by rpublication date Sat Feb 19, 2011 17:40Report this post to the editors seomra sproi for hosting this event.

It sickens me to think that I, or anyone else, could end our days with a terminal disease and suffering in pain just for the sake of these religious nuts who think that we must endure it just because of what their definition of life is. Which is based on a work of fiction anyway.

author by Rebeccapublication date Tue Feb 22, 2011 21:48Report this post to the editors

I'm actually speechless at what's been posted on this page. Exposing vulnerable people to...I can't even describe the horror that that man represents.

Related Link:
author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:13Report this post to the editors may be confusing different issues. Many of us have lost friends to suicide(or sometimes 'accidents' resulting from that 'living dangerously' syndrome that can stem from the same coin-spinning as to whether its all worth the candle). That DOES constitute tragedy.

Euthenasia is not the same thing. I've seen a few 'lives' prolonged BEYOND what would have been any natural span until the the quality of the life was reduced to borderline torture conditions, or else preservation of the physiological when the psychological, and hence the individual's sense of self, was destroyed by a combination of medication and pain. Nobody makes such decisions easily, unless they are cynically sadistic, and the general run of medical practitioners tend not to be that.

I've had to keep quiet a few times when dying patients said to me, apparently asking for assistance(one man had motor neuron disease and was physically helpless, having been an active strong happily married individual with everything to live FOR) that they would be better off '..out of it'.

Ethically I could say nothing, being in a professional capacity. Personally, if I were in that position I would have welcomed release from pointless and wasteful suffering. There is plenty of that without facilitating it chemically.

author by Johnny Ringo - Suicidepublication date Thu Feb 24, 2011 14:51Report this post to the editors

i admire the person who started this thread.

Suicide is epidemic in this country from village, town and city. Alcohol and substance abuse are part of the tragedy.

Last week there was a damning report in relation to our prisons and suicide also. It created shock waves throughout the country. Youngsters as young as 16 years old are being locked up for 23 hours daily in St. Patrick's Juvenile prison.

Suicide sadly for some is away out of the misery.

The Constitution states to protect our young. We break the law on this issue.

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Thu Feb 24, 2011 15:45Report this post to the editors

I think Johnny, our 'betters' believe, like that yankee millionairess and taxes, that the law is just for 'the little people'.

But I think you've hit the source of the problem when you state suicide is ' a way out of misery'.

The unacknowledged part of the misery is the social structures of our meritocratic, increasingly competitive, dog-eat-dog, (rat)race to the top, with its consequent relegation of the least agressive to created 'failure' and the bottom, and its then internalised sense of devaluation amidst a culture where you have to supress any intimation you might actually NOT be '..worth it ', overwhelms many who have not had the benefits that accrue, increasingly dynastically, with inherited privelege.

I've been trying for a while to get some notice of the fact that depression is not just an internal morbid state, but is often driven by social factors. I reckon anyone not depressed is not looking around too far. I regard it as a sign of mental HEALTH. Well, it cheers ME up.

Part of the problem is the academic and professional psychiatric and psychology vested interest in maintaining the treatment model that guarantees them status and income. No need, I think, to mention big pharma.

I wonder what way the figures are currently trending in the US, now that Obama has betrayed all that Hope he raised?
They could prove me wrong. And i'd agree on the drink n drugs. Self medication. Beats prozac and safer than valium.

And the dodgy news is, thanks to advances in brain-mapping and micro-techniques, the chemical, surgery and physiological model remain in the ascendant. Even those who do advocate therapy shy away from sociological elements qualifying their diagnostics. Complicated problems and simplistic prescriptions.

author by Dickpublication date Wed May 18, 2011 14:23Report this post to the editors

Experts across Europe expect to see a spike in depression and suicide levels amongst seniors as the recession bites. Psychologist Susan Quilliam explained in an interview with the People newspaper last month how older people can often feel guilty at being made redundant . Urging redundancy victims not to blame themselves for being let go from a job , Ms Quillian said : “Organisations are axing whole departments. It’s not a statement about you – it’s about the economic situation.”

The head of the Campaign Against Suicide in Ireland , Shane Maher explained in a recent interview with the Examiner how job loss can be “ the sudden jolt” that drives older people to take their own lives . He proposed retirement clubs and job sharing initiatives to counter the effects of isolation for seniors , saying that for the elderly : "Sudden withdrawal from occupation, routine and work colleagues, which can sometimes be accompanied by the death of a spouse, can be devastating ."

In the UK claimants face savage cuts in incapacity benefit and disability allowances similar to welfare cuts proposed for Ireland .Staff at the UK Department for Work and Pensions have been issued official guidance on how to deal with a claimant who threatens suicide according to the Guardian . As in Ireland, long-term joblessness in the UK affects the over-50s disproportionately- 46 percent of the over-50s jobless have been out of work for more than 12 months.

author by Dickpublication date Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:46Report this post to the editors

Japan’s finance minister: Old people should “hurry up and die”

author by Janepublication date Sat Jan 26, 2013 22:00Report this post to the editors

In fairness the japanese are not known for their senstivity in general ,( i knew a few japanese exchange students and they tell me emotions are something japanese people do with a certain sense of shame,and its not the done thing),although they are a noble sort of people,have a good sense of honour and justice,that believe in doing things right at work etc,going that extra mile and all that..That said i think it is awful to make such a statment saying 'old people should hurry up and die',nothing can excuse it..But sensitivity (if you ever know japanese people,or ever been to japan)is not their strong point.

author by fredpublication date Sun Jan 27, 2013 06:41Report this post to the editors

Actually the japanese have a better tradition of looking after their old people than we do.
They are just being undermined by economic interests more and more now.

These economic interests are attacking and undermining their more noble traditions and sense of community, as they are doing all over the world.

We just shove our elders into a cheap private for profit nursing homes to die, but first, often they are subjected to cost cutting measures and regular humiliations there.

author by Dickpublication date Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:02Report this post to the editors

Public anger has forced the resignation of Independent member of Cornwall Council Collin Brewer , who asserted on October 2011 that disabled children should be “put down” in order to save the council money .For eighteen months Brewer attempted to justify what Disability Cornwall representative, Theresa Court , called a “vile and hideous” statement by saying that he had made it in an attempt to “provoke a reaction in order to start a debate” on budget and job cuts.

Mark Blackwood asks on wsws this morning :“What other vulnerable people are considered potential targets—the old, the mentally ill, the very poor?”

author by dickpublication date Tue Jul 28, 2015 15:48Report this post to the editors

Controversial columnist Katie Hopkins thinks that mobile "euthanasia vans" should be introduced to cull Britain's old people .

The former Big Brother contestant writes in her "Telling It Like It Is" Sun column :

“It would all be perfectly charming. They might even have a nice little tune they’d play. I mean this genuinely. I’m super-keen on euthanasia vans,”

see: .

Hopkins insists that she is against human suffering and only motivated by " an idea that we need to find solutions to problems.”

author by Rational Ecologist.publication date Wed Jul 29, 2015 14:18Report this post to the editors

I am for the right to die; however, there are those who see old people as a burden and not an asset.
Anyone see Soylent Green, the movie. Check it out.
Death, the ultimate product.

author by tompublication date Mon Sep 28, 2015 14:44Report this post to the editors

Seomra Spraoi , the lively autonomous social centre where the good doctor Nitschke showed his humane device to the people of Ireland just three or four years back has been pronounced dead.
As no funeral notices have appeared to date in the Irish anarchist media (unless they were in Esperanto ), this recently-added , short wiki entry written entirely in the past tense must serve as the centre's obituary notice .

author by dickpublication date Tue Oct 13, 2015 18:05Report this post to the editors

After seomra's sad demise, we thought Indymedia must have taken a cyber version of the good doctor's self-euthanasia kit .

author by Rosheenpublication date Tue Oct 13, 2015 20:46Report this post to the editors

Dr. Nitschke's assisted suicide kit, in a handy black box, is really photogenic. I suppose pictures will appear in the newspapers soon. It should whet the appetite of the curious.

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