Funding for commencement of Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 will help to protect vulnerable persons from abuse

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE

Wednesday, December 21st 2016

Funding for commencement of Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 will help to protect vulnerable persons from abuse

Inclusion Ireland welcomes launch of National Safeguarding Committee’s Strategic Plan 2017-2021

Inclusion Ireland insists that all efforts to strengthen the rights of vulnerable adults to live lives free from abuse will be undermined without funding to commence the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015. 

The launch of the National Safeguarding Committee’s Strategic Plan 2017-2021, which took place in Dublin yesterday, aims to raise public awareness, promote the protection of rights and influence Government policy and legislation to safeguard vulnerable adults from abuse over the next five years.

This work will be undermined without the commencement of key legislation including the Capacity Act. Inclusion Ireland – a member of the National Safeguarding Committee – believes that there will be no clarity about who can make decisions on financial, health or well-being matters without full commencement of the assisted decision-making legislation.  

The Capacity Act, which was signed into law by President Michael D Higgins last December but has not been commenced, will give people with disabilities, older people and those with acquired brain injuries the necessary supports to make decisions.

The Minister of State with responsibility for disabilities, Finian McGrath, has recently stated that funding will be made available to commence the legislation in January 2017 and while this commitment is welcome, it is overdue. Delivery on this promise is critical and no further delay can be countenanced if we are to take this Government’s commitment to the rights of vulnerable adults seriously.  

Full commencement of the Capacity Act has also been identified as a key legislative requirement for Ireland being able to deliver on the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Inclusion Ireland Equality & Human Rights Officer 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 injuries 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.

“We must also remember that until all aspects of the Capacity Act have been commenced, the Lunacy Act 1871 will remain on the Irish Statute Book and there will be a major legislative barrier in the way of Ireland ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which Ireland signed as far back as 2007.

“The fact that the UNCRPD has not been ratified in Ireland is a national embarrassment and is a deeply worrying lack of commitment for persons with disabilities who are currently at risk of being further excluded from decisions which impact their daily lives, from employment to voting.

“One of the priority actions specified in the HSE’s National Service Plan 2017 (Social Care Division) is to establish a team to implement the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015. While we welcome the commitment from the Minister for Disabilities, Finian McGrath, that funding will be available to fund decision-making legislation, it is essential that this is delivered on.”

NOTES TO THE EDITOR:

● Inclusion Ireland 
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.

● Capacity Legislation
Capacity Legislation relates broadly to decision making and a person's ability to do so. When we are discussing capacity we will look at two different ideas, legal capacity and mental or decision-making capacity.  Legal Capacity is recognition that all persons have a right to make decisions and have those decisions recognised regardless of disability. Mental Capacity – sometimes called Decision-Making Capacity – is more closely aligned to mental functioning and intelligence. Under this process a person who is found to lack capacity may have their rights to make decisions curtailed or substituted to another person.  More information on Capacity follow this link www.inclusionireland.ie/capacity

● Decision Support Service (DSS)
The DSS will move to the Mental Health Commission and we cautiously welcome that. The Capacity Bill is disability-neutral and should not be associated solely with mental health. We recognise that the Minister has assured that the DSS will have its own identity and branding and we welcome that. Inclusion Ireland had campaigned for the DSS to be outside the Courts Service and is welcoming of that.

● Ratify UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The Government has published a Roadmap for Ratification of the UNCRPD and the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill was by far the largest impediment to ratification. With the enactment imminent, we call on the Government to ratify the UNCRPD without reservation as soon as possible.