Swiss organisation Dignitas has urged an Oireachtas committee to change the law on assisted dying.

The group, which supports voluntary assisted dying, told the hearing that it has 100 Irish members.

Two representatives of Dignitas - Ludwig Minelli and Silvan Luley - addressed the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Assisted Dying.

In their opening statement, they said that an Irish person travelled to Switzerland to end their life in 2020.

The not-for-profit organisation added that the first Irish person to do so was in 2003.

The statement added: "Voluntary assisted dying should be legalised as a choice for the Irish alongside other options to soothe suffering and improving quality of life, may it be palliative care, hospice work, suicide attempt prevention, good care in old age, and more."

"The European Court of Human Rights, in its judgment of 20 January 2011, in a case initiated by DIGNITAS, held that it is an individual's right to decide by what means and at what point his or her life will end, provided he or she is capable of freely reaching a decision on this question and acting in consequence."

Assisted dying has been legal in Switzerland under certain circumstances since 1942.

Dr Theo Boer, Professor of Healthcare Ethics at Groningen University in the Netherlands - the first country to legalise euthanasia under strict conditions since 2002 - also gave evidence.

In his opening statement, Dr Boer said that he "... switched from being moderately supportive of the Dutch euthanasia law to being increasingly critical".

He said his "scepticism" flows from the introduction of euthanasia, in which a doctor administers the fatal drug, as opposed to assisted suicide, in which the patient takes the final act themselves.

Dr Boer said: "The legalisation of euthanasia has done much more than just providing some citizens the liberty to take a way out. It turned the whole landscape of dying, including our view of illness, suffering, ageing, and care-dependence upside down."

He added: "In the slipstream of legal euthanasia, the percentage of people dying through terminal sedation has skyrocketed to 25% of all deaths last year - where most other developed countries would come no higher than 2%."