A Dutch expert has urged TDs and senators to decriminaise assisted suicide, but not to explicitly legislate for the practice.

Professor Theo Boer from the Netherlands told the Oireachtas Committee on Assisted Dying that he has switched from being moderately supportive of the Dutch euthanasia law to now being increasingly critical.

Suicide was decriminalised in Ireland in 1993, but assisted suicide remains an offence.

Professor Boer said assisted suicide should not be illegal although safeguards should be added.

"In so far as it can be proven that the patient knows what he or she is doing, in so far as it can be positively proven through video that this person has not acted under pressure," he said.

On the role of doctors in assisting suicide, he said he would advise minimising the role of physicians and not regulating.

The committee also heard from the Swiss organisation Dignitas, which supports voluntary assisted dying.

Silvan Luley of Dignitas Switzerland said that 12 Irish residents have chosen to end their lives with Dignitas since 2003.

Dignitas currently has 100 Irish members who have expressed an interest in assisted suicide.

Mr Luley urged the committee to change the law to allow Irish people to have the choice of assisted dying alongside other palliative care options.

"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," he said.

Independent Senator Ronán Mullen asked whether there was any reduction in suicides where assisted dying was legalised.

Professor Boer said that in the Netherlands, in some categories of those allowed to engage in euthanasia, the number of suicides has risen against expectations.

"There is no reason to assume that allowing euthanasia will bring down the number of suicides."