The socially contentious issue of assisted dying will be examined by a special Oireachtas Committee made up of nine TDs and five senators.

The terms of reference for the committee have been finalised this evening with politicians agreeing that the "gravity" of the topic warrants a thorough examination.

The committee will be tasked to carry out an in-depth study of the issues and it can recommend legislative changes.

It will aim to complete its work within nine months of its first public meeting.

Specifically, it will explore how assisted dying might operate in Ireland and examine what safeguards would need to be put in place.

Politicians will look too at the Constitutional, legal, and ethical issues involved and will seek to identify any possible unintended consequences.

The terms of reference state that the Committee will consider all "relevant considerations arising from the provision of a statutory right to provide assistance to a person to end their life and the statutory right to receive such assistance".

People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny, who has been an advocate for legislative change in this area, welcomed the terms of reference.

"This is a very important development, and it is crucial that Ireland begins a meaningful and open national discussion on the issue of assisted dying and that this Committee is established before Christmas," he said.