INCLUSION IRELAND OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE
Wednesday, 17th June 2015
Inclusion Ireland welcomes completion of the Select Committee Stage of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013
Long-awaited repeal of the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871 another step closer
Legislation will secure significant improvements in the lives of Wards of Court throughout the country
Inclusion Ireland today welcomes the completion of the Select Committee Stage of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013 where more than 400 amendments have been considered by the committee.
Today’s proceedings bring us closer to the enactment of the Bill and the long-awaited repeal of the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871.
The Bill – when enacted – will secure significant improvements in the lives of Wards of Court and will provide a legislative underpinning for the decision-making autonomy and self-determination of people with intellectual disabilities, amongst other affected individuals.
Inclusion Ireland welcomes some of the specific amendments discussed today including the following:
● Renaming the Public Guardian to the Director of the Decision Support Service and the removal of the co-decision-making process from the courts. Inclusion Ireland has raised the difficulty of an adversarial process through a court setting in previous submissions.
● Removal of the term “informal decision-making” and the increased safeguarding of the right of people with disabilities to autonomy in this regard. In our original submission on this Bill, Inclusion Ireland said that we considered “the informal decision-making provisions of the Bill offered insufficient safeguards for persons” and may allow for arbitrary decisions that a person lacked capacity in a de facto substitute decision-making situation.
● Commitment made by Minister Kathleen Lynch to further consider a Legal Aid process at report stage. Inclusion Ireland is aware through consultation with its membership that the cost associated with reviewing Wardship, applying for Decision-Making Representative orders and other costs are of serious concern to family members.
● Involvement of National Disability Authority and Citizens Information Board and the multi-disciplinary approach in drawing up the Codes of Practice. Inclusion Ireland had called for the involvement of people with disabilities in the drawing up of Codes of Practice.
Inclusion Ireland Training and Development Officer Sarah Lennon said:
“Today’s progression of the Assisted Decision-Making Bill through Select Committee Stage at the first attempt is very welcome and represents a significant step forward to the enactment of modern capacity legislation and removal of the Lunacy Act.
“The Victorian-era Lunacy Act 1871 refers to persons with intellectual disabilities as ‘idiot’, ‘lunatic’ and of ‘unsound mind’. Such legislation has no place in modern Ireland.
“There are almost three 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.
“We appreciate the opportunities offered to organisations representing people with disability in shaping the Bill and Inclusion Ireland is looking forward to the swift enactment and commencement of the Bill.
“Inclusion Ireland is now calling on Minister Frances Fitzgerald to ensure that the voices of all persons affected by the legislation are heard in drafting these Codes of Practice and they are made available in all accessible formats.”
Notes to the editor:
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.