Inclusion Ireland welcomes Government indication that UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will be ratified by Christmas

Inclusion Ireland welcomes Government indication that UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will be ratified by Christmas

Minister for Health and Justice & Equality must issue clear timescale for commencement of Capacity Act 2015

State must deliver key legislative reforms to pave way for ratification of Convention

Inclusion Ireland has welcomed the indication from the Minister of State with special responsibility for Disability Issues, Finian McGrath TD, that Ireland will ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) by Christmas.

Despite signing the Convention in March 2007, Ireland is now the only EU country that has failed to ratify the Convention after the Netherlands and Finland ratified it earlier this year.

Full commencement of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015, which was signed into law by President Michael D Higgins last December, has been identified as a key legislative requirement for Ireland being able to deliver on the provisions of the UNCRPD. 

Inclusion Ireland believes that Tánaiste and Minister for Justice & Equality Frances Fitzgerald and Minister for Health Simon Harris must issue a clear timescale for the commencement of the Capacity Act.

Minister Fitzgerald must commence the Capacity Act and order a review of more than 2,500 people who are currently Wards of Court in Ireland. In addition to this, Minister Harris must ensure that adequate funding is put in place to establish the Decision-Support Service (DSS) so that the service can begin important public awareness work.

The Victorian-era Lunacy Act (1871) remains on the Irish statute book because the Capacity Act 2015 has not been commenced. The Lunacy Act allows for people with disabilities, dementia, acquired brain injury or mental illness to be considered ‘idiots’ or ‘lunatics’ and to be made wards of the court facing restricted lives around finances and medical decisions.

The Government must publish a timescale to commence all aspects of the Capacity Act 2015 including a clear outline on important work such as:

  • Establishing the new Decision Support Service (DSS) and the recruitment of a director for this service;
  • Conducting a review of over 2,500 Wards of Court who are in a legal limbo awaiting discharge from the Lunacy Act;
  • Development of codes of practice and public awareness campaign for all affected parties;

Inclusion Ireland Training & Development Officer Sarah Lennon said:

“The Government must not delay the commencement of the Capacity Act any longer; people are still being made Ward of Court in the High Court as we wait on the Government to fulfill its promise. The Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871 is a relic of Victorian Ireland and very much of its time – the 19th Century. This legislation has no place in a modern Ireland.

“The Lunacy Act was rightly identified as a barrier to ratification of the UNCRPD and the introduction of the Capacity Act 2015 was very welcome reform for people with disabilities, people with acquired brain injury, mental illness or dementia and the elderly. However, the Capacity Act is not enough – it must be commenced and resources made available to make it a success.

“With the Netherlands and Finland ratifying the UNCRPD, Ireland is now the very last country to ratify the Convention in the European Union. This does not represent a strong commitment to people with disabilities that their rights are taken seriously by the State. It is essential that Ireland does not make it to a dubious anniversary of a decade without ratification in March 2017.”