Persons with disabilities and their families urge Government to scrap Lunacy Act 1871

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE

Persons with disabilities and their families urge Government to scrap
Lunacy Act 1871

Inclusion Ireland and other leading organisations deliver ‘Fool Me Once’ petition
to the Government.

Lunacy Act 1871 refers to people as ‘idiot’, ‘lunatic’
and ‘unsound mind’ and affects 595,335 people in Ireland.

Persons with disabilities and their families have today urged the Government to deliver on its promise to scrap the 144-year-old Lunacy Act 1871 and introduce modern human-rights-compliant legislation for persons with intellectual disabilities.

The call came today, April Fools day, with the presentation of the ‘Fool Me Once’ petition to members of the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Human Rights. The petition was organised by Inclusion Ireland with the support of Age Action, the Centre for Independent Living, the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Down Syndrome Ireland, Disability Federation of Ireland, the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL).

The Lunacy Act currently affects 595,335 people in Ireland and Inclusion Ireland and other leading organisations are calling on the Government to finally take action in this area. 

Inclusion Ireland CEO Paddy Connolly said:

“The Victorian-era Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871 was passed by the Westminster parliament in the same year that the first game of Rugby Union was ever played and the Royal Albert Hall was first opened. It refers to persons with intellectual disabilities as ‘idiot’, ‘lunatic’ and of ‘unsound mind’.

“Such legislation has no place in modern Ireland. There are currently over two and a half thousand people in Ireland with an intellectual disability, mental illness or brain injury who remain Wards of Court under this archaic legal regime. The fact that this legislation has not been repealed is one reason given by the State for its failure to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities a full eight years after it was signed.

“Successive Governments have failed to replace this law with modern human rights-compliant mental capacity legislation. Inclusion Ireland is now calling on the Government to make a renewed commitment to repeal the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871 and introduce the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill without further delay. As part of this, we are requesting that the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Human Rights to examine our petition as part of its review of Ireland’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).”

ENDS

Cormac Cahill
Inclusion Ireland Communications & Information Officer
(01) 8559891
086 837 3394
cormac@inclusionireland.ie

Note to the editor:

Presentation of the petition

The ‘Fool Me Once’ petition will be presented to the Oireactas Sub-Committee on Human Rights and Equality today, 1 April 2015, at 2.10pm at the gates of Leinster House, Kildare Street. Committee members include David Stanton TD, Anne Ferris TD, Finian McGrath TD, Senator Katherine Zappone and Senator Ivana Bacik.

Photos will be filed to Photo Desks by Gareth Cheney of Collins Photography.

The ‘Fool Me Once’ petition can be obtained through following this link: www.ipetitions.com/petition/replace-the-lunacy-act

For more information on the Lunacy Act 1871, the ‘Fool Me Once’ petition and an Easy-to-Read version of the petition please follow this link: www.inclusionireland.ie/content/page/replace-lunacy-act-1871-fool-me-once-petition

Inclusion Ireland is the national association for people with an intellectual disability. We provide a central forum for our members to identify priorities and formulate nationally agreed policies to present to government, statutory bodies, other relevant groups as well as the general public. Inclusion Ireland campaigns for changes in services and legislation that will improve the quality of life and participation of people with an intellectual disability in Irish society.

Inclusion Ireland also provide an information and advice service to people with an intellectual disability, their families and also to services that support people with an intellectual disability as well as students and others doing research in the sector etc.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is a Treaty directed at changing attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. Once ratified, it will require Ireland to create an independent mechanism to monitor the treatment of persons with disabilities. Ireland was one of the first EU member states to sign the CRPD when it was opened for signature on March 30, 2007. Last Monday (March 30th 2015) marked the eight-year anniversary of Ireland signing the CRPD and persons with disabilities and their families are still waiting for the Government to make this International Agreement a part of Irish law.