Self-Advocates call on Ministers to fund key disability legislation in Budget 2017

Self-Advocates call on Ministers to fund key disability legislation in Budget 2017

Legislative reforms must be delivered to repeal the Lunacy Act and ratify of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Representatives from the Inclusion Ireland Self-Advocacy Committee and the National Platform of Self-Advocates are calling on the Minister for Health Simon Harris and the Minister of State for Disabilities Finian McGrath to make funding available for the commencement of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 in Budget 2017.

It is over nine months since the Capacity Act was signed into law by President Michael D Higgins last December. However, enactment is not the end of the story – the Act must be commenced and resources made available to make it a success.

The Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871 remains on the Irish Statute Book until the Capacity Act has been commenced and it is also a key legislative requirement for Ireland being able to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which Ireland signed in 2007. Ireland is now the only EU country that has failed to ratify the Convention as the Netherlands and Finland ratified it earlier this year.

Inclusion Ireland Spokesperson Sarah Lennon said:

“The enactment of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 before last Christmas was a very welcome reform for people with disabilities, people with acquired brain injury, mental illness or dementia and older people. However, enactment is not the end of the story – it must be commenced and resources made available to make it a success.

“The Government must publish a timescale to commence all aspects of the Capacity Act 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 1871; and development of codes of practice and public awareness campaign for all affected parties.”

National Platform of Self-Advocates Chairperson Brian Hayes said:

“The Government must not delay the commencement of the Capacity Act and ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities any longer. Ireland is now the very last country in the European Union to ratify the Convention, which does not represent a strong commitment to people with disabilities that their rights are taken seriously by the State.”

Inclusion Ireland Self-Advocacy member Phil Davy said:

“The Lunacy Act is almost 150 years old. This legislation has no place in modern Ireland, yet it remains in Irish law because the Capacity Act has not been commenced. The Lunacy Act means that people with disabilities, dementia, acquired brain injury or mental illness can be considered ‘idiots’ or ‘lunatics’ and to be made wards of the court facing restricted lives around finances and medical decisions.”